Richard Hughes may hold key to Michael Edwards' preferred Liverpool manager

FSG's new chief executive of football Michael Edwards is 'in full agreement' on the priority target to be Liverpool's next manager.

Edwards return to Liverpool was announced on Tuesday, with the 44-year-old having left his role as sporting director at Anfield back in 2022.

Following his confirmation, it is expected that Richard Hughes, the departing Bournemouth transfer chief, will be appointed as the Reds' next sporting director. He will work under Edwards, who will take on a more senior leadership role at FSG, overseeing all football operations.

With those key behind-the-scenes appointments as part of the structural shake-up now sorted, attention turns to finding Jurgen Klopp's replacement — Edwards and Hughes' most pressing task ahead of the summer.

Xabi Alonso remains the clear frontrunner, while HITC report that Edwards is "in full agreement with FSG" that the Bayer Leverkusen head coach is the "best fit" for Liverpool.

That report adds that Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi and Germany’s Julian Nagelsmann are also still under consideration. However, there is said to be confidence regarding the first-choice target.

Alonso is, of course, also coveted by Bayern Munich, who are also on the lookout for a new manager this summer, with Thomas Tuchel set to depart.

New sporting director Max Eberl has denied that the reigning German champions have already made an approach for the 42-year-old former midfield playmaker, though Liverpool can expect fierce competition for their appointment ahead of the summer.

Xabi Alonso

Bayer Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso is a target for Liverpool and Bayern Munich

With Leverkusen still unbeaten this season and competing on three fronts, including chasing a first-ever Bundesliga title, both Liverpool and Bayern are likely to have to wait to engage in talks with Alonso over his future.

Advantages for Liverpool in Alonso chase

It has been reported previously that Alonso is 'unlikely' to turn down the opportunity to speak to Liverpool when the time is right, while his connection to the club where he spent five years as a player between 2004 and 2009 is clear.

Another ace the Reds may have in negotiations, adding to their confidence, is the relationships of the incoming sporting director.

As noted by journalist Bence Bocsak, Hughes is on "good terms" with Alonso's agent Iñaki Ibañez, having been pivotal in the move to bring his other client Andoni Iraola to Bournemouth last summer.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail's Lewis Steele describes Hughes as "multi-lingual" and having "the number of everyone in football".

The 44-year-old Hughes was born in Glasgow, but grew up in Italy and spent time in the youth academies of Atalanta and Arsenal, before starring for Portsmouth and Bournemouth as a senior level midfielder.

He also won five caps for Scotland during his playing career.

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