Liverpool FC recently confirmed the signing of Manchester City midfielder James Milner on a free transfer, subject to a medical. Some fans might argue that he isn’t the type of marquee player the club should be looking for, but that is exactly where they lie wrong.
James Milner is exactly the breed of player Liverpool is in dire need of.
Milner played a crucial part in City’s campaign this season and continues to operate in his prime. A utility man and a player with great experience, the 29-year old provides strengths across all dimensions. The England international has over 50 caps for his country and a total of 2 Premier League medals. One thing is for sure, he definitely doesn’t lack experience.
Even former manager Manuel Pellegrini couldn’t stop himself from praising Liverpool’s first summer signing.
“Milner is a phenomenon, a guy with big balls and a heart this big,” the Manchester City boss said in March.
“Intelligent, great mentality, [he is] one of those players that when you leave him out you’re left with this feeling of injustice; it hurts because he should always play but sometimes you need a technical player with other characteristics.”
“Find me a more complete English player. There are players who’re better technically, yes. Quicker players, yes. Players who head better, yes. But show me one who does all the things Milner does well. There isn’t one.”
Milner might not be as technical as Silva or as physical as Toure, but what Milner brings to the table is reminiscent of Dirk Kuyt’s industrious attitude on the pitch. He’s a jack of all trades and a master of none. The former Aston Villa player can practically play in almost all positions across midfield & attack. He would provide Brenden Rodgers with a range of options, a manager who is known to prefer versatile players.
At City last season, Milner created a total of 53 chances – the same as Steven Gerrard. He had 5 goals last season, which is more than Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen combined. In more ways than one, he might just turn out to be the perfect replacement for the departing Gerrard – or as close as one can be.
The fact that Milner chose to come to Liverpool & snub a higher contract offer from City proves his top-class mentality and why he’s an exact fit for Liverpool. The Reds were prepared to give him increased playing time in addition to a major role in his preferred central midfield position. This could possibly mean a midfield partnership alongside current vice captain Jordan Henderson. And the player knew what he needed – valuable time out on the field instead of earning a bigger wage.
Milner will bring with him Premier League experience, invaluable leadership in the dressing room, impressive work ethic, title-winning mentality and a natural gift to coax the best out of his teammates on a daily basis. Something that, after Suarez’s departure, is sorely missed.
The acquisition of James Milner is a huge departure from the philosophy prevalent in the minds of the owners at Anfield, who prefer betting on potential. FSG is known to invest in talent and to follow the “money-ball” strategy, which sees the player either contributing to the club’s success or leaving at a higher fee. This could imply a possible shift in transfer strategy after last year’s summer blunder.