James Milner is said to be targeted by Liverpool in planning for life after Gerrard, and he appears to be a worthwhile acquisition.
The England international’s contract at Manchester City expires this summer, the Red’s are capable of attracting Milner to Anfield and they should certainly look to do so.
From a financial viewpoint Milner appears extremely good value as he would be a free transfer, despite his obvious qualities and experience. In an age where Financial Fair Play is becoming increasingly prominent in club’s transfer dealings, Milner would not be one to worry the books at Anfield.
Though he would probably command a high salary, Milner appears a worthwhile investment, particularly considering he is probably currently worth circa £20million were he not be nearly out of contract.
Tactically Milner would be an ideal fit at Liverpool, particularly given that Brendan Rodgers likes versatile players. The way Manchester City have used Milner has led many to forget his creative qualities, most obvious when playing as an attacking midfielder when at Aston Villa.
This form earned Milner a £26m move to the Etihad, which fully demonstrated his versatility, capable of playing at full-back, as a holding midfielder and on the flanks.
Milner would surely appreciate the opportunity to play regularly in his preferred position in the centre of midfield, something Liverpool can offer, particularly given the upcoming absence of Steven Gerrard. Joe Allen is currently struggling, whilst Lucas Leiva looks set to depart relatively soon, meaning Milner would undoubtedly start whenever he was fit.
Title winning experience, from two successful Premier league campaigns with City, is also something Milner can offer that is currently lacking throughout Liverpool’s squad.
Mental scars will still remain with both players who came so close to lifting the title last season, making Milner a valuable asset, particularly given how young Liverpool’s squad is. Regular starters such as Emre Can, Philippe Coutinho, Alberto Moreno, Lazar Markovic and Raheem Sterling are all under 23, with new captain Jordan Henderson just 24.
At 29, Milner is in the peak years of his career and perfectly placed to complement these youngsters’ potential through being a proven winner with extensive international experience. The ex-Leeds midfielder would also, similarly to Daniel Sturridge, want to prove that he can be the focal point in a top side rather than just a squad player.
Milner is an asset to City, partially through assisting with the completion of the home-grown quota required in the Champions League. Moreover, City have few players who are particularly tactically versatile, or midfielders that truly appear to understand their defensive duties.
Milner is often criticised for a lack of creativity, though at Manchester City he is compared with some outstanding attacking talent, such as Samir Nasri, Yaya Toure and David Silva. Unlike those names, Milner is a true team player who understands his role within a squad.
Milner is also more creative than often given credit for, managing six Premier league assists this season, despite often being used out of position and as a substitute. This is still more assists than any Liverpool player in the League this campaign.
Milner’s role at Anfield might well be the understated hero – experienced, supposedly ‘boring’ and often criticised. However, to understand his true worth, notice how highly valued he is by managers and fellow players.
As his brilliant parody Christmas video showed, James Milner might be ‘boring’, but given their current troubles Liverpool should do everything possible to sign him.