The footballing world woke up this morning to discover that James Milner had agreed to leave Manchester City to sign for Liverpool on July 1, subject to a medical, on a free transfer
The versatile midfielder, deployed all across midfield by Manuel Pelligrini, and upfront in one Manchester City game this season, had widely been expected to leave.
However, considering Manchester City's ever-increasing need for English players to fill their "home-grown players" quota, which states that “the 25 man squad submitted by each club playing in the UEFA Champions League must have at least eight locally trained players named in it”, with a “locally trained player” being one who is “either be club trained or [football] association trained”, is a huge surprise given Milner’s consistency over the past season.
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The departure of Milner now leaves Manchester City with just one English player (Joe Hart) in the senior side, with Frank Lampard and Scott Sinclair having now also departed the club.
According to Whoscored.com, Milner’s pass completion rate over the 18 games he started, plus the 14 substitute appearances he made, was 79.8%, which may not sound high given that players like Eden Hazard completed 90.1% of passes throughout the season, but Milner’s pass completion rate was consistent throughout.
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Milner is a winner
It is this consistency throughout the entire season that has won Milner so many plaudits. He also chipped in with five goals and seven assists, highly impressive figures for a player who was so constantly shuffled around by Pellegrini.
Liverpool have also secured themselves a proven trophy winner. At Manchester City he won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a Capital One Cup during his five-year spell.
He also played in the Champions League, which is something Liverpool are desperate to do again after their disappointing exit in the group stage last season.
Given that Steven Gerrard has now departed Liverpool after his final appearance in their 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Stoke, Milner looks one of the ideal candidates to form a strong central midfield partnership with Jordan Henderson, who has come on leaps and bounds since his move to Anfield in 2011.
It can be argued that Manchester City’s loss is a massive gain for Liverpool. Not only have they gained a player who gives 110% in every game he plays, but Milner is a proven trophy winner and a player who has bags of experience.
Coming in on a free is also a massive plus for Brendan Rodgers, whose previous transfers have been questionable at best.
The only potential stumbling block for Milner having a successful career at Liverpool is his wages, reportedly £165,000 per week, but it seems that Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool Football Club have secured themselves a marquee, if under-rated, signing.