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

Ben Stewart
Richard Hughes has made some big signings over the years.

Richard Hughes has made some big signings over the years.

Liverpool have appointed Richard Hughes as their new sporting director and we’ve assessed some of the best deals that he’s negotiated over the years.

The 44-year-old will leave his current role as Bournemouth’s technical director at the end of the season and will then begin his new job at Liverpool.

“I am incredibly proud to be offered this opportunity,” Hughes told the club website upon taking the role. “Liverpool FC is a unique club and I’m grateful to be given a chance to serve it in this capacity.

“It will be my job, working with Michael [Edwards] and leading the football operations team already in place, plus the wider staff at the AXA Training Centre, to make good decisions.”

Hughes has spent the last decade working behind the scenes at Bournemouth and he played a key role in landing a number of significant deals during his time at the Vitality Stadium.

Along with Hughes, Liverpool have also been boosted by the return of their previous sporting director Michael Edwards, who has stepped into a senior football operations role.

The Reds seem to be in safe hands heading into the post-Jurgen Klopp era and Hughes will no doubt be excited to get started on the new project.

We’ve taken a closer look at Liverpool’s new sporting director and have assessed the seven best deals that he negotiated over the years.

Dominic Solanke

Plenty of people raised an eyebrow at this signing at the time as Bournemouth splashed £19m on Solanke, who had only scored one goal in 27 appearances for Liverpool.

Despite struggling in his early days at the club, he soon proved his worth. The forward fired Bournemouth to promotion in 2021–22 and he’s shown that he can cut it in the Premier League over the past 18 months.

When Solanke was receiving some flack in his early days at the Vitality Stadium, it was Hughes who was quick to defend the striker.

During an interview in 2019, Hughes said: “Look at the product after a year and a half rather than a week and a half down the line.”

Several years later, his words have come true. In the Premier League this season, only Mohamed Salah, Ollie Watkins and Erling Haaland have scored more goals than Solanke.

Nathan Ake

Undoubtedly one of the biggest success stories of the Hughes era. The Cherries paid a club-record £20m fee to land Ake in 2017 and three years later they sold him for more than double that amount.

The Dutch defender had some shaky moments during his spell with Bournemouth, but his potential was obvious to see from the get-go.

Despite being relegated to the Championship in 2019–20, the Cherries still managed to negotiate a £41m sale which saw Ake move to Manchester City.

Since heading to the Etihad, the Dutch defender has won eight trophies, including three league titles and a Champions League.

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Aaron Ramsdale

Another player that Bournemouth banked a healthy profit from was Ramsdale. The Cherries signed the goalkeeper for a marginal fee of £800,000 in 2017 and they sold him for more than 23 times that amount in 2020.

Ramsdale was still an up-and-coming prospect during his time at Bournemouth and despite being part of their relegated team in 2019, the club were still able to bank a healthy profit from his sale.

Hughes will have no doubt played a key role in the negotiations which saw Sheffield United spend £18.5m on the shot-stopper. Bournemouth also received a chunk of change when Ramsdale moved from the Blades to Arsenal in 2021.

Andoni Iraola

Given Gary O’Neil had kept Bournemouth up last season, the decision to replace him with Iraola was a bold one. However, it’s more than paid off for the Cherries this year.

The club has made significant strides forward under the Spanish boss and Iraola himself is sad to see Hughes move on, given the close working relationship the pair have.

“Obviously for me, it is a shame, because I have been working quite closely with him this season,” Iraola told reporters when discussing Hughes.

“He is very good at his job. As a person, we have had a very good connection since the beginning. I wish him the best for the future.

“But Simon (Francis) knows how we work. I think the transition is going to be smooth because for sure Simon will have been learning a lot from Richard in these past years.”

Arnaut Danjuma

The Dutch forward only spent two years at Bournemouth, but the club were still able to bank a healthy profit on him. His best campaign for the Cherries came in 2020-21 as he registered 24 goal contributions in the Championship.

Upon selling him to Villarreal in 2021, the club made around £8m in profit on his sale. All things considered, that’s not bad going from Edwards and his team.

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Tyrone Mings

Bournemouth fans never saw the best of Mings as the defender struggled with various injuries during his time on the south coast.

Despite only making 23 appearances for the club over the span of four seasons, Hughes was still able to negotiate a sizeable profit on the defender when Aston Villa came calling in 2019.

The Cherries had originally spent £8m to sign him from Ipswich Town and they managed to sell him for a fee of up to £25m to Aston Villa in 2019. You can’t argue with that sort of profit.

Callum Wilson

Perhaps one of the most important signings that Bournemouth have ever made. The Cherries splashed £3m on Wilson back in 2014 and alongside making a profit on him, he played an integral role in their recent history.

Having scored 67 goals for the club, Wilson is the club’s fifth-highest-scoring player of all time. He played a key role in their promotion from the Championship in 2015 and quickly established himself as a Premier League star.

Upon the striker leaving the club in 2020, the club received £20m from Newcastle. In total, that’s a £17m profit on the 32-year-old.

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