The value of having James Milner in the team is more clear than ever. How will Liverpool replace him?
There’s enormous value to having James Milner in your squad. Liverpool are seeing that right now.
It seems that half the starting XI is currently out with an injury. In fact, well over half the current squad has been out with an injury this season.
Alisson, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Thiago, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah were or are missing at some point.
There are currently doubts over Andy Robertson, too. If he is out on Sunday, that means Roberto Firmino is the only player from Liverpool’s presumed first-choice XI to not pick up an injury this season.
And that’s not counting players outside of that XI. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita, Joel Matip, Kostas Tsimikas and Xherdan Shaqiri have all had injuries, too. And there’s a good chance we’re forgetting someone in all of this.
He’s just always available
And this is where Milner’s value lies. He’s remarkably consistent, both in availability and playing style.
The latter is particularly notable. Milner puts in a certain level of performance and style no matter where he is. You can play him virtually anywhere.
That really couldn’t be anymore important than a time like this. Liverpool need players who can move around the pitch, either plugging gaps or allowing a flexible formation.
Milner allows that wonderfully and is available every week.
The big problem, then, is that Milner is 34. While he’s proven an ability to outrun everyone in Europe, he can’t possibly do it three times a week.
He may only have a year or two left at this level, in truth. But Liverpool will always want a player like him around.
But replacing him will likely prove a nightmare. As they can see from looking at their own squad right now, players are reliable as Milner are few and far between.