The club’s history is the academy and we need to promote the kids. To do that you need to be strong and be sure you can promise the young players a position in the first-team squad.
Fergal Harkin has been appointed as Sporting Director at Standard Liège after leaving Manchester City.
The 45-year-old joins the Belgian club after 13 years at Manchester City, which concluded with a seven-year spell as Football Partnerships and Pathways Manager.
It's a first Sporting Director role for the Irishman, who started out as Scouting and Recruitment Information Manager at Manchester City and then worked as Football Partnerships Coordinator before being promoted to his most recent role.
Harkin replaces former Technical Director Benjamin Nicaise, who left Standard in October 2021, and is now part of the recruitment team at Paris Saint-Germain.
It is the latest staffing change at the 10-times Belgian Pro League champions, with CEO Alexandre Grosjean having left in February.
Standard, now under the multi-club ownership of 777 Partners, put in place a framework to return to the top of Belgian football in 2020, combining smart player recruitment to continuing their tradition of bringing through young talent from their academy.
Harkin's work with Manchester City's academy players in his role as Football Partnerships and Pathways Manager will stand him in good stead to continue Standard's tradition of developing young talent, a pivotal part of the role at the club as predecessor Nicaise told TransferRoom previously.
“The club’s history is the academy and we need to promote the kids," Nicaise said at the time. "To do that you need to be strong and be sure you can promise the young players a position in the first-team squad.”
Standard last won the league in 2009, the second successive title triumph with a young team inspired by academy products Marouane Fellaini, Axel Witsel and Steven Defour.
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