The 2021/22 campaign may have only recently come to a conclusion, although all eyes are now firmly fixed on how each team will shape up next term, with Aston Villa stealing a march on their rivals with some notable early business.
Just over a week or so on from the Premier League’s final day, the Midlands side have already wrapped up three marquee arrivals, bringing in Sevilla’s Diego Carlos, Marseille midfielder Boubacar Kamara and Barcelona playmaker Philippe Coutinho – the Brazilian having made his loan deal permanent.
That latter deal saw manager Steven Gerrard utilise his Liverpool connections to bring the £142m genius to Villa Park, having played previously alongside the 29-year-old at Anfield under current Leicester City boss, Brendan Rodgers, the pair coming a whisker away from winning the Premier League title in 2014.
Now, the former Reds skipper could well look to Merseyside again to bring in another familiar face, with the evergreen veteran James Milner having been tipped to join his former England colleague this summer by pundit Jason McAteer.
Much like with the Coutinho deal, bringing in the 36-year-old would be something of a coup for the Villans – even in his advancing years – with the former Manchester City gem offering invaluable experience and versatility to help the club improve upon their 14th place finish from last term.
The indication is that NSWE are plotting a move for another midfield addition, despite the arrival of Kamara, with Milner potentially an ideal, short-term fit, even if he may not be the glamorous name that supporters would be hoping for.
Since joining the FA Cup winners in 2015, the one-time Newcastle man has racked up 289 appearances in all competitions for Jurgen Klopp’s side – notably chipping in with 70 goal contributions in that time and winning both the Champions League and all three domestic trophies.
Such knowledge and service could prove vital to Villa, while concerns over the suitability of captain Tyrone Mings has left the club in desperate need of a new skipper, with Milner potentially the “leader” – as he has been dubbed by Leanne Prescott – that Gerrard is searching for.
There would, of course, be an emotional element to any move to Villa Park, with the £1.8m-rated playmaker having enjoyed two previous spells at the club, initially joining on loan in 2005, before making a permanent switch in 2008.
His stints may have been brief, yet they were no less impressive, the Leeds born ace notably hitting joint career-best figures during the 2009/10 campaign with seven league goals, before being snapped up by Manchester City that summer.
A fairytale return could be on the cards, with it wise for Gerrard to utilise his pulling power to bring the 61-cap international to the club, as he did so successfully with Coutinho.
With Milner – whose free transfer move to Anfield has been dubbed a “bargain” by writer Ben Webb – currently nearing the expiry of his contract, Villa would be able to secure a ‘bargain’ of their own this summer.