Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre will leave the club at the end of February to join German second-division side 1860 Munich.

The 53-year-old has spent 10 years at Anfield, joining the club in 2007 as commercial director and being added to the club’s board of directors in 2009.

In 2011 he became managing director and was made chief executive in 2013.

“This has always been more than just a job for me because of the emotional connection with the place,” said Ayre.

He initially announced his plans to leave in March last year, and has since played a pivotal role in the restructuring of a number of senior leadership roles at the club.

Ayre acknowledged second-tier 1860 Munich were not currently among the “biggest or best” teams in Germany, but said the club “undoubtedly belongs back in the Bundesliga”.

“There is enormous potential to improve this state of affairs,” he added.

Liverpool expect to have a new chief executive in place by the summer.