RICHARD Hughes says every moment he has spent at Cherries has been “a blessing” as he announced he will leave his role as the club’s technical director this summer.

Speculation has grown in recent weeks regarding the future of the 44-year-old, with Roma, Newcastle United and Liverpool among the clubs reportedly interested in his services.

Hughes, who played 185 times as a player for Cherries, retired from on-pitch duties in 2014, given a role in the recruitment department by Eddie Howe later that year.

He now has one of the top roles in the boardroom, alongside chairman Bill Foley, president of business Jim Frevola and chief executive Neill Blake, having become first-team technical director in 2016.

Bournemouth Echo: Richard Hughes, bottom middle, could leave Cherries this summer

Discussing his exit, Hughes said: “Working for AFC Bournemouth has always been a source of great joy and pride for me.

“Initially representing the club as a player and then subsequently in a football leadership role, I count every moment I’ve spent here as a blessing.

“As technical director, I’ve been fortunate to work alongside some of the most talented and dedicated individuals the game can offer. It’s been 10 challenging, enjoyable and rewarding years in this post.

“The journey we have been on, as a club, is nothing short of remarkable. Where we are currently, on and off the pitch, assures me the future is bright.

“In Bill Foley, AFCB has an owner who is as ambitious as he is smart and committed. In Neill Blake, the club has a top-tier CEO who has always made decisions which place the best interests of the club and its supporters before anything else.

“On the technical side, we have a group of players and coaching setup who complement each other perfectly. Andoni is one of Europe’s most exciting managerial prospects and the playing squad is arguably the best we’ve ever had. I’ve zero doubt that match days will continue to be exciting and entertaining for our fans.

“The club requires a healthy lead up time to plan for the summer and beyond so this is the right time to announce that I will be leaving at the end of the season.

“I look forward to the day I return as a supporter in the company of my wife and our five children who are the biggest of Cherries fans, but before then an important end to this season awaits and I am looking forward to a strong finish. Up the Cherries.”

Cherries owner Foley added: “I'm very grateful for Richard's outstanding service to this football club.

“His contribution in helping to deliver competitive teams for us over the years is no better highlighted than by our status as a Premier League club for seven of the last nine seasons. I wish him the very best for the future.”