Premier League • England

First three Liverpool victims of Richard Hughes era emerge, with Klopp favourite on the move

Richard Hughes and Joel Matip, Liverpool

Joel Matip is one of several players set to depart Liverpool

Liverpool star Joel Matip is among three players who will be allowed to leave Anfield this summer under new sporting director Richard Hughes, according to a report.

Liverpool initially approached Michael Edwards about returning as their sporting director, but he rejected the offer as he wanted a bigger, more overarching role. As such, Fenway Sports Group (FSG) adjusted their plans and made Edwards the new CEO of their football operations, allowing him to appoint a sporting director.

Having been impressed by the work Hughes has done at Bournemouth, Edwards gave the job to the 44-year-old Scot.

After the appointment was confirmed by Liverpool, Hughes said: “I am incredibly proud to be offered this opportunity. Liverpool FC is a unique club and I’m grateful to be given a chance to serve it in this capacity.

“People rightly talk about the rich history this organisation can boast, but it is the present and future which really excites me. Jurgen Klopp is leading an outstanding team and squad and alongside that the commitment to young players and their pathway to the first team is also outstanding.”

Hughes will officially join Liverpool on June 1, though it is likely both he and Edwards will analyse the senior squad before then.

DON’T MISS: Richard Hughes to unlock fantastic first Liverpool signing of star who eluded Michael Edwards twice

According to Football Insider, Hughes has already decided which three players he will let go in the summer. The first is central defender Matip, who has been on Liverpool’s books since July 2016.

Matip was signed on a free transfer from FC Schalke 04 and that move has proven to be a masterstroke, with the 32-year-old helping Liverpool win a host of trophies including the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and two League Cups.

‘Outstanding’ Liverpool man poised to leave

Matip has emerged as a favourite of Klopp’s, with the manager labelling him ‘outstanding’ and ‘so consistent’ in the past.

However, Matip has been out of action since December after tearing his ACL. His contract expires on June 30 and Hughes has no plans to extend it.

Central midfielder Thiago Alcantara will follow Matip out of Anfield, too. Thiago is a classy performer when fit, but Liverpool have not been able to rely on him for some time now.

The Spaniard has been plagued by injury problems in the last few seasons, and those issues have only gotten worse this term. Thiago has featured just once in all competitions due to hip and muscle injuries.

Like Matip, Thiago is out of contract come the end of the season and Hughes will not be renewing it. Interestingly, the report states that Klopp could have convinced Liverpool to keep hold of the pair, but as he is departing too there is no chance that will be happening.

The third player set to leave is veteran goalkeeper Adrian. The 37-year-old is another whose contract is due to expire and will not be extended.

Adrian has not played for Liverpool this campaign due to Alisson and Caoimhin Kelleher being way ahead of him in the pecking order.

Although, Hughes will have to make big changes to the goalkeeping department in the upcoming transfer window. As Kelleher wants to become a regular starter elsewhere, Hughes will need to find both second and third choice keepers to help Alisson.

Surprisingly, electric winger Luis Diaz is another who has been tipped to depart Liverpool in the summer. But in a boost for the club’s fans, Fabrizio Romano has emphatically shut down talk of a move to Paris Saint-Germain.

READ MORE – New Liverpool sporting director: Treble winner and £3m bargain among best Richard Hughes deals