Speculation over James Milner’s future continues to dominate the British press, as his Manchester City contract comes to its end.
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According to the Daily Mirror [via ESPN], the 29-year-old has all but ruled out staying at the Etihad beyond the end of the season, having grown unhappy with the role he plays under Manuel Pellegrini.
The Mirror adds that the Reds attempted to lure Milner to Liverpool in 2010, but he opted to move to City after leaving Aston Villa. Five years on, how would he fare on Merseyside?
Milner has certainly enjoyed an excellent record in Manchester, despite his somewhat unappreciated reputation. He’s closing in on 200 appearances in all competitions, scoring 16 goals and winning five major honours – including two Premier League titles and the FA Cup.
He’s also progressed on the international scene and now has 53 caps for England. He’s featured at the last three major tournaments, including last summer’s World Cup.
Back in March, Pellegrini was lavishing praise on Milner, highlighting his attitude and dedication before labelling him a complete player (via the Daily Mail).
“It would be very difficult to find a more complete player than [James] Milner” Pellegrini said. “There are players who are better technically. There are quicker players.
“There are players who head the ball better. But show me a player who does all the things that Milner does well and there isn’t one.”
That’s certainly an impressive CV on paper. His workmanlike versatility in midfield could also prove more than useful for Brendan Rodgers, who’s still on the hunt for a replacement for the departing Steven Gerrard.
With the Anfield faithful crying out for some experience and strength in depth ahead of next season, the prospect of picking up Milner, as well as Marseille stars Andre Ayew and Rod Fanni (via The Guardian), for nothing, is more than appealing.
However, despite all that’s good about Milner, we can see some big question marks over him being the right fit at Liverpool, most notably as to whether we’d be able to offer him the regular starting role he’s after.
It’s hard to debate his quality and ability, but he’s not the Gerrard-like player that we need to be chasing. He’ll work hard and put himself around the pitch – much like Jordan Henderson – but he won’t change a game.
Considering our lack of progress in finding a suitable Gerrard replacement – arguably an impossible task anyway – you could argue that we shouldn’t be so choosy. But between Joe Allen, Lucas Leiva and Jordan Henderson, there’s no reason to spend big on Milner’s sizeable wages.
The unfortunate truth is that Milner is just not going to inspire excitement and belief among the Kop. We need to be aiming higher. While the European elite might be out of reach, especially if we fail to make the top four, we can find someone that offers something different.
Let’s not settle for a player we don’t really want, let’s move forward in a productive fashion and give the fans something to get excited about!