There has been a lot of talk about Chelsea buying Pedro from Barcelona and Manchester United buying Memphis Depay, yet I don't think enough has been said about Liverpool’s free transfer of James Milner from Manchester City.
The industrious midfielder has a lot of attributes that would see him walk into any top European side, and Brendan Rodgers’ may just have purchased a key piece of his Champions League qualifying puzzle.
Milner first came onto the scene in the early 2000s as a Leeds United player in the David O’Leary set up. Since then he has had spells at Premier League outfits Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Manchester City, as well as Swindon Town and now Liverpool.
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In his time at all these clubs, he has been a work horse – a loyal servant who has worked tirelessly both in his attacking and defensive duties. Milner can produce a wonderful cross or pass or track back and put in a last ditch tackle that can turn the defensive team into the attacking one.
At times last season, he lifted City with big goals against FA cup opponents Sheffield Wednesday, the winner in stoppage time and rescuing a point, again in stoppage time with a wonderful free-kick against Hull. This is an attribute that is consistently overlooked by many.
Frankly, Milner was an unsung hero, who was overshadowed by bigger names like Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and David Silva, who only won plaudits when he scored or assisted. Of course, he did so much more.
HE IS SO VERSATILE
James Milner will be Liverpool’s equivalent of John O’Shea when he was at Manchester United, in that he can play anywhere, whether that is striker, as he did for Manchester a city last season, in midfield, his primary position or even in defence if they suffer an injury crisis.
This sort of player is invaluable to a squad.
BRINGING EXPERIENCE OF WINNING
Milner has won a number of accolades, including the Premier League and the FA Cup. He has the experience required to cope with high pressured moments and can show Liverpool’s younger stars how to cope when that pressure arises.
His confidence and knowledge in these types of situation will also be key to ensure they do not have a repeat of the 2013-14 season, in which they lost the title in the final weeks to Manchester City – brought on by the pressure of having to keep winning.
MONEY CAN’T BUY EVERYTHING
Milner rejected £165,000-a-week at Manchester City to join Liverpool, citing his reason as wanting to play more centrally, which he believes will be afforded to him by the Anfield outfit and not his previous employers.
This snub proves that Milner is genuinely not motivated by money and wants only the best for his career, playing on a position where he feels happy.
Top-four finish possible with Milner?
Milner certainly brings experience and depth to a squad and will provide solid foundations in the centre of midfield. Added to that, his unique style of fitting in where needed I think is the perfect solution for Brendan Rodgers when he needs a new tactic in tricky games.
A smart bit of business from Rodgers, perhaps a big mistake by City.