Liverpool have changed their approach to signings over the last year or two, with a number of big names coming in for seismic transfer costs. From Sadio Mane to Mohamed Salah, from Naby Keita to Alisson, Liverpool clearly are attempting to bring themselves back into contention in the Premier League.
However, preceding their recent spending flurry came years of relative calm on the transfer front for Liverpool, with the Reds hesitant to spend big in the transfer market.
Players came in, of course, they did, but rarely would Liverpool spend the £30m, £40m or £50m that they have over the last year or so under Jurgen Klopp.
Indeed, free signings were as common, if not more so than big money deals, and one player that Liverpool managed to bag on a free transfer was James Milner. Though a fairly unassuming and uninspiring signing, the Englishman came with a rich pedigree, and following his release from Man City, bringing him in came with little risk for Liverpool.
Indeed, fast forward to 2018, and Liverpool’s decision to bring him in looks like a masterstroke. He’s been a regular at Anfield since his arrival, and his performances this season have gone up another level.
All that combined, then, make it curious that the Reds are yet to offer him a new contract at Liverpool. According to the Daily Mail, Liverpool haven’t yet opened talks with Milner over a new deal, despite the fact that his contract at Anfield expires at the end of the season.
Liverpool, then, could be on the verge of what would actually be a fairly major departure – and that’s something that Jurgen Klopp must avoid.
Liverpool are, undoubtedly, building a team that is capable of fighting for the Premier League title. However, that building starts from within, and the presence of Milner in this team is quickly proving to be immeasurably important.
Players earn their wages on the field, of course, but Milner has proven this season that he’s worth his weight in gold at Liverpool. He’s been a regular this term, having made 5 league starts, and he’s already bagged 1 goal and 2 assists. As of Friday the 21st of September, Who Scored also place his average rating at a stellar 7.51, and that goes a long way to proving just how efficient he has been for the Reds. It’s not just his stats, though. It’s his energy, his enthusiasm and his pure quality that combine to make him such a force in the midfield.
That hasn’t just begun this season, either, given that he’s been impressing for years under Jurgen Klopp.
On top of his performances, Milner is a leader, and Liverpool don’t have enough of them at present. Alongside Jordan Henderson, Milner is a real charismatic presence for Liverpool, and whenever he’s on the field he can be seen barking orders and encouraging his teammates. That’s a trait that other teams have undervalued in the past, like Chelsea following the departure of John Terry. The importance of experienced hands cannot be doubted, and Milner is as battle-worn as they come.
Now, naturally, that comes with an obvious downside in that Milner’s no longer a spring chicken. Granted, at 32-years-old, he doesn’t have a significant number of years left in the tank. However, if you didn’t know how old he was, it would be easy to look at the way he plays and think that he’s in his mid-20s. He’s still in the prime of his career, and he’s proven that this year. After all, age is just a number. Liverpool are obviously building for the future, but Klopp will recognise that he needs a balance of youth and experience, and so having Milner in there will do him and his young Reds no harm at all.
Liverpool are, undoubtedly, building a team that is capable of fighting for the Premier League title. However, that building starts from within, and the presence of Milner in this team is quickly proving to be immeasurably important. Signing him to a new deal, then, must be a priority for Jurgen Klopp.
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