The Best Transfer Signings of Richard Hughes: Liverpool’s Sporting Director

- - Players

Red Handshake LogoFour of Liverpool’s most favourite sons, The Beatles, wrote and recorded a famous song about revolution back in 1968.

Fast forward the best part of 60 years and there’s very much revolution in the air at Liverpool FC, too.

Jurgen Klopp will depart the club, leaving an almighty void to be filled. One thing that the Reds hierarchy seems very keen to do is present the new head coach, whoever that may be, with a young, hungry and progressive squad to work with.

To that end, Michael Edwards – the club’s CEO – has managed to persuade Richard Hughes to leave his beloved Bournemouth and take up the position of sporting director at Anfield.

It’s a multi-faceted job role at the modern football club, but it’s almost a certainty that Hughes will be involved in the identification and recruitment of new players – as he was at Bournemouth.

It’s such an important task, and while Liverpool at least have the luxury of a strong squad in place already, it definitely feels as though they need a few new faces if they are to challenge both for the Premier League and Champions League titles simultaneously.

Hopefully, Hughes has a few aces up his sleeve.

“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,” he said.

If he can help to bring a few trophies to Anfield, that would be excellent.

The former midfielder does have a decent track record of identifying talent, happily, as his list of best signings while working in a similar role at Bournemouth attests.

Nathan Ake

Signed From Fee
Chelsea £20m

It was on Hughes’ head be it when he convinced Bournemouth’s owners to part with £20 million – the club’s then record transfer fee – for the services of Nathan Ake in 2017.

He played at Dean Court for three seasons, slowly developing into one of the best defenders outside of a big six club – despite the Cherries getting relegated during the 2019/20 season.

In fact, so impressive was Ake in an otherwise poor side, no less a judge than Pep Guardiola stepped forward with a £41 million deal for the Dutchman.

So Bournemouth got a rock-solid defender for three years and doubled their money in the process – a win for them, a win for Hughes and a win for Ake, who has since gone on to become a Premier League and Champions League winner in Manchester.

Dominic Solanke

Signed From Sold
Liverpool £19m

A striker that doesn’t score goals: it’s not the easiest of sells.

That was how Dominic Solanke was perceived back in 2018 when he joined Bournemouth from Liverpool for £19 million.

His 53 career appearances at the Reds and out on loan at Vitesse had yielded just eight goals, which isn’t a record that particularly excites for a striker.

But Hughes evidently saw something of a raw gem in Solanke, whose career has progressed slowly and surely to the point now that he’s on the verge of an England call-up.

He scored 30 goals for the Cherries in their promotion-winning campaign of 2021/22, took a season to adjust to life in the Premier League, before returning in 2023/24 and notching 15 goals in his first 28 EPL games of the campaign – only Erling Haaland and Ollie Watkins had scored more at the time.

Callum Wilson

Signed From Sold
Coventry City £3m

Hughes has a happy knack for signing strikers with a huge ceiling for improvement – always a good thing.

He dropped down to League One to capture Callum Wilson from Coventry City, paying £3 million for the forward’s services in 2014.

Wilson took to life in the Championship like a duck to water, notching 20 league goals as the Cherries achieved promotion.

He chipped in with goals in each of his next five seasons with Bournemouth in the Premier League, before securing a move to Newcastle United in 2020 – a transfer which netted his former club around a 700% mark up in pure profit, as well as 67 goals.

More good business from Hughes!

Aaron Ramsdale

Signed From Sold
Sheffield United £800k

Although Liverpool aren’t a club that needs to rely on the buy low, sell high credos, what Hughes’ track record shows is that he signs ‘improvers’ – those that can reach all new levels of performance after their switch.

But if the Reds are ever a club that needs to generate its own transfer income, they have a proven operator in that regard with Hughes – just look at his capture of Aaron Ramsdale back in 2017.

The shot stopper had plenty of potential, fulfilled it in part at Bournemouth and went from being an £800,000 signing to an £18.5 million sale in the space of three years – ironically, it was Sheffield United who re-signed him for that mammoth mark-up.

Now, Ramsdale is one of the best goalkeepers in the land – another feather in the cap of Richard Hughes.

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