Louis van Gaal says James Milner is a better team player than Lionel Messi

Liverpool’s Champions League triumph was hugely impressive on so many levels.

Having finished second in Group C behind Paris Saint-Germain, the Reds were given a tough draw in the last 16 against Bayern Munich.

But they made easy work of the Bundesliga champions, drawing the first leg at home 0-0 and then winning 3-1 in the second at the Allianz Arena.

In the quarter-finals Liverpool faced Porto and, just like the year before, they cruised into the next round with a 6-1 victory on aggregate.

Next up was Lionel Messi’s Barcelona in the semi-finals and after losing the first leg 3-0, it looked like Liverpool’s Champions League journey was over.

How wrong we were.

Jurgen Klopp’s men produced a stunning comeback to win 4-0 at Anfield and book their place in the final, leaving Barcelona’s players shellshocked.

And we all know what happened in Madrid. Liverpool comfortably beat Tottenham 2-0 to be crowned champions of Europe for a sixth time in their history.

From start to finish Liverpool were excellent and every single one of the players deserves credit for the role they played.

There’s one man whose performances always seem to slip under the radar, though, and that’s James Milner.

Now 33, Milner is Liverpool’s very own Mr Versatile and in the Champions League final he came on as a substitute in midfield but ended up dropping into defence.

The Englishman is prepared to play wherever Klopp wants him to, which is why Louis van Gaal thinks he’s one of the best team players around – better even than Messi.

“Look at Barcelona. How many Champions Leagues have won with what they say is the best player in the world?” said Van Gaal in a recent interview with El Pais.

“Look at Neymar at PSG. How many Champions Leagues [have they] won?

“Neymar and Messi, I like them as individual players, not as team players. I believe that in collective games there is nothing more important than the team player.

“One of the best is James Milner. In the final of the Champions League he played as a defender and as a midfielder. It’s great that he can offer that at 33.”

A long last, Milner is getting the recognition he deserves.

Van Gaal went on to praise Liverpool’s team as a whole, adding: “Everyone plays for the team. [Mohamed] Salah, [Roberto] Firmino and [Sadio] Mane work very hard in defence because Klopp wants to press.

“Until a few months ago he saw the light: he understood that pressing is not always the right thing to do. It depends on the conditions.

“His [Borussia] Dortmund was more offensive than his Liverpool, where he learned that sometimes you have to fold a little bit, collect your lines and counterattack.

“That is good for Salah, Mane and Firmino because they are very quick to take advantage of the spaces behind the rival defences.”

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