Written by: Daniel Ghorbal @danghorbal
James Milner- signed on this day in 2015
Signing on a free from Manchester City, James Milner has been a vital asset in Liverpool’s squad under Jurgen Klopp, adding experience, versatility and professionalism of the highest order. Upon arrival, Brendan Rodgers typically deployed Milner in his conventional midfield position, however after being sacked just 3 months later, Milner’s role in the side had changed significantly.
Jurgen Klopp demanded more defensive solidity after a poor start to the season, and therefore made James Milner his first choice left-back, preferring the veteran to Alberto Moreno. Throughout his Liverpool career, Milner’s professionalism has been second to none, covering position’s that he may not be used to and performing in those positions to the best of his ability.
Similarly, to this spell at left-back, Liverpool’s vice-captain covered for Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back on a few occasions last season, yet again a position not suited to his attributes but one in which Milner approached with a first-class attitude. Statistically, Milner always manages to cover more ground than any of his teammates, outlining his immense fitness as well as desire to win football matches.
His versatility and ability to adapt to a change in formation is a trait that has benefitted Jurgen Klopp massively since his arrival upon Merseyside. Despite this representation of him, Milner is technically valuable too and offers a lot to the side in terms of his footballing ability.
His ball retention and cover in key areas has always been noticeable under Klopp and as well as this, scoring 17 goals since joining (predominantly from the penalty spot) and adding many assists, he has popped up with many key moments for the Reds, notably his fantastic assist for Dejan Lovren in the thrilling 4-3 clash with Borussia Dortmund, as well as emphatically converting penalties in pressuring situations against the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Cardiff, amongst many others.
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A game that typifies James Milner’s Liverpool career is that of the Barcelona second-leg. He started the game in central midfield, however injury to Andy Robertson meant that James was required at left-back for the second half, with the small task of keeping Lionel Messi quiet. People will talk about how Liverpool overturned a 3-0 deficit without Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, but Milner’s role in the game is worth remembering. He was certainly a key factor in winning number 6 and achieving European glory, and his emotion after the game showed what football and what the club means to him. Going forward, James Milner will remain a key asset within the club, and despite the likes of Naby Keita blossoming and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returning from injury, game time will certainly not be limited for Milner, whether that be in midfield or either full-back position as cover.
He has been a true professional to the club and a worthy Champions League winner. In my opinion, James Milner has been arguably the most valuable free transfer in Premier League history. Not only does he bring experience, leadership and professionalism to the dressing room, but he is also a terrific player, remaining consistent on all areas of the pitch. Although he is not naturally a flair player, he is the sort of player everyone needs in a club, hence why he has made over 150 appearances for the club. Despite his age, Milner most definitely has a huge role to play in upcoming seasons, and if he was to leave, it would be a sucker-punch. Jurgen’s relationship with Milner is fantastic nonetheless, and he is someone that the manager will want to keep around for as long as possible.
What do you think of James Milner? Any personal highlights? What do you think his role will be next season? Let us know in the comments below!
Written by: Daniel Ghorbal @danghorbal