Dylan Gerstley wonders if James Milner could be the man to lead Liverpool in midfield next season.
Exciting new additions to Liverpool’s midfield have made fans forget possibly the most polished and well rounded midfielder the club have.
It may make for shocking reading now, but James Milner is a Brendan Rodgers signing. The previous Liverpool manager possesses a ridiculed transfer market strategy but the signing of Milner from Manchester City was actually quite shrewd. There are shades of Jürgen Klopp in the deal as the midfielder is not known for tremendous amounts of flair but rather for his work rate. The English international also arrived on Anfield for free, making his signing stick out among Rodgers’ deals but fit right in with Klopp.
James Milner dominated the Premier League in an Aston Villa shirt before making the switch to a Manchester City side trying to become world class. The Englishman was clearly of immense value to the squad as his versatility and hunger for the game allowed him to plug gaps all over the field. World renowned midfielders like Yaya Toure and David Silva obviously made it difficult for Milner to win a starting central spot, but even in a wide position, his talents were plain to see.
Milner is an excellent, tactically gifted player. His lack of pace may be his biggest weakness but it is more than made up for with by his outstanding vision and intelligence. The ability to find gaps and exploit channels in opposing defenses allows the 30 year old to get in great positions without pace. His vision is also a strong asset of his and it was evidenced by his 11 assists in the Premier League last year.
The midfielder is also noted for his incredible technical skill. Although not particular flashy, his touch and close control are excellent and certainly strengths of his. His passing is on point and sharp, furthered by his game intelligence, and his crossing is simply sublime. Remember Dejan Lovren’s game winning header against Dortmund? A simply perfect cross from James Milner.
Even for all his achievements and ability, James Milner is a forgotten man at Anfield. His work rate is fantastic, his intelligence is elite, and his technique is outstanding. Few players on the market, or off it, possess his level of experience and ability in a package perfectly wrapped in a love of the game and a supreme will to run. The Englishman brings Klopp’s squad up a level and his professionalism makes him rather unique in modern football.
Milner can play in this Liverpool midfield. He can play behind Sadio Mane, Phil Coutinho, and Roberto Firmino, right alongside Emre Can. His defensive capabilities will allow him to shuttle around the field and win the ball back while also providing an experienced head next to the young German. His long passing can be perfectly utilized in a deeper role and he can create and find space for the crafty attackers ahead of him.
The sheer stamina the midfielder possesses will be key in deploying Klopp’s pressing style but his intelligence will go a long way as well. The highly experienced Englishman will be able to guide youngsters and new signings alike through games with his level head and it could prove priceless for Klopp, both early and late in the season.
Even without flair, Milner brings so many great qualities to the table that it is hard to discount him. It is understandable given his unassuming playing style and demeanor but even with the new signings, James Milner remains one of the best midfielders at the club. His contributions could be massive and his ability to reshape the modern Liverpool into greatness is plain to see.