James Milner is crucial to Liverpool and their future. The versatile Yorkshireman hasn’t aged a day since he arrived at Anfield; in fact he seems to be getting younger.
While he has been pivotal to the Reds’ form in recent years, playing centre midfield, left-back and right-back along the way – his importance stretches beyond the pitch. One ex-Liverpool player proves just how crucial he can be.
When Steven Gerrard was first breaking into the Liverpool team he was brash and unpolished. Stevie was 20 when Gary McAllister signed for the Reds. Our hero was gutted, he thought Gerard Houllier was going for tried and trusted over youth. The now Rangers manager told Liverpool FC back in 2015 how Gary Mac was crucial to his development: “He took a shine to me and helped me a lot to progress as a footballer on the pitch…I owe Gary Mac a lot”.
Liverpool potentially have their next Gerrard coming through the academy in Curtis Jones. The 18-year-old midfielder has been gaining a reputation for himself within the academy and is expected to make sporadic first team appearances this year. McAllister’s influence on Gerrard proves just how important older midfielders are to the next generation.
With Milner aging (slowly) we should keep him around as long as possible in order to help nurture youth players such as Jones. The former England international would be the perfect midfield partner for games when Jones is breaking into the team. Milly’s experience will provide balance to the Scouser’s youthful exuberance and, over time, help him control it.