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Michael Edwards is either going to be the hero of Liverpool's transfer window or the villain.

The Reds kicked the summer off in fine fashion after striking a deal with Monchi to bring Mohamed Salah to Merseyside. Liverpool paid Roma £37million for the services of the Egyptian and with the way the market is inflated, it looks like a steal.

The arrival of Southampton's Virgil van Dijk looked to be inevitable at one stage but after the tapping up allegations the interest in the Dutch defender appears to have died down.

Liverpool's pursuit of Naby Keïta has been just as public, however. Jürgen Klopp's men have seen two bids turned down for the dynamic box-to-box midfielder, with the latest one reportedly worth £66million.

And RB Leipzig owner Dietrich Mateschitz does not seem ready to let go of his young midfielder.


Naby Keita | RB Leipzig | FWTV by FootballWhispers

He said: “We recently had an offer of €75million for Naby Keïta, he has a contract and he will complete it.

“If we sell it would not only be a sign of mistrust towards our supporters but also a bad one for our players like Timo Werner, who are also in high demand. ”

If Liverpool aren't able to strike a deal for both Keïta and van Dijk then the club, and more specifically Edwards, have a challenge to find suitable alternatives.

Furthermore, the task is even more difficult now that selling clubs know the Reds are willing to part with huge sums of money this summer. If Liverpool come knocking you can almost guarantee fees will be inflated.

If the sporting director of the club fails to identify and deliver alternatives with not just a similar profile, but of a similar quality too, then what was lining up to be Liverpool's best summer since the inception of the Premier League could well turn out to be one of the most disappointing.

Who is Edwards?

When appointed as the new sporting director in November it was seen as an underwhelming promotion by sections of the fanbase.

This was the same man described as a laptop guru when the Daily Mail published a piece detailing how his cosy relationship with owners Fenway Sports Group led to a strained one with former manager Brendan Rodgers.

Eddie, as he likes to be called, climbed the ranks at the club after fitting in with the their ‘Moneyball' approach. Edwards would sit in his air-conditioned office and monitor videos of the opposition.

It was also reported that he was part of the much maligned transfer committee at Anfield, with the Daily Mail report going on to claim he'd played a part in Liverpool wasting millions in the market.

“The committee have yet to explain how they came up with the figure of £29million to sign Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino from Hoffenheim, who finished eighth in the Bundesliga last season. There are countless others like that too.”

To say his reputation was tarnished would be an understatement. But the owners must have been impressed enough to promote him to a role they've wanted to implement at the club since 2012.

He arrived as head of performance and analysis after then sporting director Damien Comolli recommended him to the owners. The first thing he did with Liverpool was to look at how football was analysed at the club.

In June 2013 he was promoted to the role of director of technical performance and was then made technical director in August 2015.

His latest promotion means his time at Anfield will be judged on the success, or the failures, of who he manages to bring in through the door.

Hero or Villain

If neither Keïta or van Dijk arrive it will be up to Edwards to earn his money.

While Liverpool can be held responsible for the failure to bring the Saints centre-back to Anfield – with reports suggesting they met the player without the consent of his current club – the same can't be said for not managing to sign the Guinean midfielder.

The club put their money where their mouth is and nearly doubled their transfer record with their offer to RB Leipzig.

The Germans are adamant they won't part with their most prized asset and, unlike other clubs, Liverpool just don't have the money to throw £100million at a player with other areas of the squad still to upgrade.

There will be alternatives out there, but none of them will be identical to Klopp's first choice targets.

Leon Goretzka has been mentioned as a possible midfield arrival as has Sergej Milinković-Savić, but neither are top of the list for a reason. The fact Liverpool have bid close to £70million for Keïta shows how highly those on Merseyside rate him.

Edwards' job is to try to bring in the next best thing and he has to get it right, the Reds can't afford another summer like that of 2014/15.

Buying potential won't suffice this time around. If Liverpool have to wait to reap the rewards then the opportunity they had has passed them by.

Stop-gap options shouldn't be considered either. The Reds can't afford another Alexis Sanchéz to Mario Balotelli situation.

So it's make or break time for Edwards in his new role. If this time next year Liverpool are without Champions League football and it's clear the summer signings have failed to deliver, then he's no doubt the villain of the piece.

But provide Klopp with the players he needs, like he did with Salah, and he could turn things around at Anfield and become somewhat of a hero. The laptop guru tag wouldn't then been seen as a negative.

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