Danny Ward has dropped the strongest hint yet that his spell at Huddersfield Town is over after marking his return to Liverpool by admitting the newly-promoted Premier League club "will hold a special place" in his heart. The Wales international played a vital role as the Terriers won promotion back to the top-flight for the first time in 45 years after beating Reading in the Championship play-off final, but his days at the John Smith's Stadium appear to be over.
The 23-year-old made 46 appearances in all competitions during a season-long loan spell with David Wagner's side, keeping 12 clean sheets. In the crunch £170m ($217m) play-off final at Wembley in May, Ward, after a goalless 120 minutes, saved Jordan Obita's penalty in the resulting shoot-out as Town soared into the Premier League in dramatic fashion.
Huddersfield were hopeful of luring Ward back to Yorkshire on a permanent basis, while the player himself has made no secret of his desire to stay for their return to the top tier of English football.
ESPN, however, understand that Liverpool have rejected the offer with Jurgen Klopp wanting Ward to be his third choice 'keeper next term behind Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius.
In a message via his Twitter page, Ward has indicated his days at Huddersfield are over after paying an emotional tribute to the supporters and players. He wrote: "The last 11 months I've been with you terriers may have been a roller coaster but it was also a heffing dream! What we have all done together as a club is the unthinkable!
"Every single one of you players, staff and fans will hold a special place in my heart forever regardless of what the future holds. A truly special club and a town like no other! Thank for what's been an amazing season."
Liverpool boss Klopp indicated in April that Ward would be part of his plans for the 2017-18 season after ruling out a move for Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart. The German confirmed he would return to Anfield and, with Alex Manninger having been offloaded, he will be the main support for Mignolet and Karius.
"We have high quality goalkeepers, that's how it is," the Liverpool coach said. "He [Hart] is not for us at this moment and not in the future. That is not because of Joe but because we have two strong goalkeepers, Wardy at Huddersfield too playing a brilliant season so we will bring him back next year. There is competition. The situation around goalkeeper is good."