Arsenal and Liverpool circling Manchester City’s James Milner
Manchester City, 9/4 with Coral to retain the Premier League title, may struggle to convince adaptable midfield man James Milner to commit to a new contract, amidst interest from Arsenal and Liverpool.
Both clubs are said to be monitoring Milner’s situation, in the hopes of pouncing for the 28-year-old if he becomes a free agent in the summer.
It is thought the England international resisted entering negotiations last season, preferring to weigh up his playing time before deciding whether to sign on the dotted line.
Versatile Milner, who can operate in numerous positions across midfield and has even recently been deployed as an emergency striker, has made 24 appearances for City this term, including 14 starts.
One of the Sky Blues’ most consistent performers, his ability to fill several roles and act as a Jack-of-all-trades, has left many viewing Milner as a squad player rather than star man.
Now the Leeds academy graduate must choose to follow the right path for his club career, a decision that will almost certainly impact his Three Lions future.
Would staying with the Sky Blues be the best option?
Former Aston Villa star Milner made a move to the Etihad in 2010, and has lifted two Premier League titles and an FA Cup during his four seasons at the club.
The Citizens certainly appear to value Milner’s contribution to the cause, with Manuel Pellegrini stating recently that: “I think they are continuing to have conversations and we hope he’ll arrive at it soon. I always say he’s a very important player for us.”
Experienced Milner has already won it all on the domestic front, but still lacks a Champions League medal.
The Sky Blues may have suffered significant woe in Europe over the last few campaigns, but are still the best chance Milner may have of tasting continental success, and adding more medals to his trophy cabinet in general.
Playing on football’s biggest club stage would certainly stand him in good stead for an England spot. However, at 28, Milner also needs to be playing regularly.
With City likely to spend big on new recruits again this summer, the Englishman could understandably be worried about his place, and prefer to be a bigger fish elsewhere.
Whilst Arsenal and Liverpool, 6/1 for a top four finish, are still fighting to secure Champions League football this term, they both require a player of Milner’s ilk.
The Gunners will need to replace Mikel Arteta sooner rather than later, and Milner could be the ideal man to shore up Arsene Wenger’s midfield, with his grit and graft something Arsenal often lack.
A switch to the Emirates could also provide the ex-Newcastle United star a chance to play alongside a host of England teammates, including the likes of Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere, which may enter Roy Hodgson’s thinking.
Liverpool, meanwhile, would likely be able to offer the greatest guarantee of a spot in the starting XI. With skipper Steven Gerrard expected to move on and Lucas Leiva also linked with an exit, Milner could find himself becoming the leading man in Brendan Rodgers’ midfield.
It may be difficult to give up the luxury of regular silverware with City but, at this stage of his career, underrated Milner deserves greater recognition and a fresh start could still see his personal career hit new heights.