Liverpool’s XI five years ago when Michael Edwards became sporting director vs XI now

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Liverpool have confirmed that sporting director Michael Edwards will leave the club when his contract expires next summer. The 42-year-old has played a key role in the Reds success since taking up his current role five years ago.

Edwards moved to Anfield in 2011 as the club’s chief analyst following spells with Tottenham and Portsmouth.

And he has built a formidable reputation since being promoted to his current role thanks to his shrewd dealings in the transfer market.

Edwards has negotiated deals for the likes of Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Diogo Jota.

He has also sold a whole host of fringe players for arguably much more than their true market value.

Express Sport takes a look at the Liverpool team when Edwards took over, compared to how the side looks now.

Liverpool 6-1 Watford – 06/11/2016

Starting XI – Karius; Clyne, Matip, Lucas, Milner; Lallana, Henderson, Can; Mane, Firmino, Coutinho

Bench – Mignolet, Moreno, Klavan, Ejaria, Wijnaldum, Sturridge, Origi

Injured/missing – Lovren, Gomez, Ings

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Edwards became Liverpool’s sporting director in November 2016 and two days later Jurgen Klopp’s side thrashed Watford 6-1 in the Premier League.

Liverpool’s attack wasn’t too dissimilar to the one they have now, with Philippe Coutinho lining-up alongside Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

But behind the frontline, the Reds side just doesn’t appear to be that strong.

Loris Karius was still plying his trade between the sticks for Liverpool and went on the play in a Champions League final for the side two years later.

He made two appalling mistakes in his European final appearance which both led to goals as Liverpool were defeated by Real Madrid.

Right-back Nathaniel Clyne was tipped for a big future when he joined Liverpool in 2015. But following injury setbacks his Anfield career never really got going and he is now struggling for gametime at Crystal Palace.

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The ever-reliable James Milner lined-up on the opposite side of defence, while Joel Matip and Lucas named at the heart of the backline.

In midfield Jordan Henderson had the responsibility of protecting the back four, while Adam Lallana and Emre Can played behind the front three.

West Ham 3-2 Liverpool 7/11/2021

Starting XI – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Jota, Mane

Bench – Kelleher, Phillips, Williams, Tsimikas, Konate, Thiago, Morton, Minamino, Origi

Injured/missing – Elliott, Gomez, Keita, Milner, Jones, Firmino

Fast forward five years and Liverpool travelled to West Ham with three of the same starting XI which defeated Watford, with Matip, Henderson and Mane still starring for the team.

And Edwards’ impact on Liverpool can be seen when you look at the Reds backline.

Signing Alisson made all the different and he played as the Merseyside club lifted the Champions League trophy 12 months after that loss to Real.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson have become two of the best attacking full-backs the game has ever seen, while Van Dijk has transformed the team.

Fabinho is one of the best midfielders in the Premier League, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would probably have been on the bench against the Hammers if it weren’t for a string of injuries.

In attack, Salah and Jota have both impressed this season. The Egypt international is having one of the best campaigns of his career and has already scored 15 goals in 15 games.

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