Two new names in the mix as Liverpool hunt sporting director

While much of the public's focus has been on Liverpool's search for a new manager, an equally important role must also be filled: that of the sporting director.

With Jorg Schmadtke leaving the role in conjunction with his friend and compatriot Jurgen Klopp, the Reds must now find the fourth person to hold this title at the club since 2022, when Michael Edwards officially departed.

His assistant, Julian Ward, filled the role for a year before he, too, decided it was time to move on.

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In seeking to replace Ward, Liverpool spoke to several potential candidates, including Monaco’s Paul Mitchell and Markus Krosche from Eintracht Frankfurt, before settling on Schmadtke as a stop-gap solution.

Now, the club must move to appoint a full-time replacement - and they expect to do so before appointing a new manager, according to Simon Hughes in The Athletic.

Who is under consideration?

Until now, the likes of Newcastle's Dan Ashworth, West Ham's Tim Steidten, Bournemouth's Richard Hughes and Bayer Leverkusen's Simon Rolfes have all been linked with the vacancy.

However, the report in The Athletic has now thrown two new names into the hat.

One prominent figure whose name has surfaced in discussions is Frederic Massara. The Italian is currently on gardening leave at AS Roma and could step into the role immediately.

He has a wealth of experience garnered from his tenure at AC Milan before going on to join Roma.

Massara's candidacy is further bolstered by the connection between AC Milan and Liverpool's ownership group, Fenway Sports Group. Milan are under the ownership of RedBird Capital, a company with ties to FSG, and this interlinking of ownerships could potentially facilitate negotiations and smooth transitions if Massara were to join Liverpool's ranks.

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Meanwhile, another contender on Liverpool's radar is Florent Ghisolfi, the sporting director at Nice. Ghisolfi brings with him a track record of navigating complex managerial appointments and operational challenges during his time at the French club. Impressively, he has garnered praise from RedBird Capital, who own Toulouse in Ligue One, for his adept handling of sporting matters on the Cote d'Azur.

However, any potential move to Liverpool could be challenging. It's anticipated that Nice owners INEOS, who now hold a stake in Manchester United, would be reluctant to allow him to leave.

Despite this, Ghisolfi remains a viable option for Liverpool as they explore avenues to replenish their leadership structure.

Changing picture

The consideration of Massara and Ghisolfi marks a significant shift in Liverpool's approach towards securing a sporting director, especially in light of Stuart Webber's impending departure from Norwich City.

Webber, who has historical ties with Liverpool, having worked in recruitment at Anfield during Rafa Benitez's reign, was initially seen as a contender. However, he was touted to work in conjunction with Klopp (with whom he has an association via Klopp's close friend, Norwich boss David Wagner).

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Now, with Klopp leaving, FSG president Mike Gordon, who is leading the hunt, reportedly wants a candidate who will return to a more numbers-based recruitment model and not work quite so in tandem with the manager.

Having allowed Klopp to have growing influence over the years, the new manager won't be afforded that luxury - at least not yet.

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