Mr Versatile, James Milner, has proven his worth for the Reds this season on numerous occasions, but does he receive the credit he truly deserves?
Milner, who has been at the Reds for almost two years, was initially brought to the club to fill the void of club legend, Steven Gerrard ; in the centre of midfield.
However, this role was altered in an unorthodox manner, with the former Man City player transferring to a left back role.
This change took effect back in August last year, as it became evident that Alberto Moreno was not in Jürgen Klopp’s plans, ceasing to be the preferred left back candidate.
At all his previous clubs, Milner has always played in midfield, whether it be in the middle of the park or the flanks. This change to defence was quite surprising, especially given he hadn’t played at full back prior to this.
He has taken to this role superbly, however, looking equally at home in defence.
Despite a downfall for the Englishman being his lack of pace, he certainly makes up for this with his relentless effort and energy, vigorous pressing , as well as his excellent delivery; crossing wise.
Milner has exemplified just how much of a jack of all trades he really is.
His regressive move to the back line hasn’t stopped him contributing goals to the team either. The vice captain of the club has bagged seven goals this campaign (16/17) with six coming from the penalty spot. Not to mention his four assists.
He has stepped up to the plate whenever needed most, the only time he failed to convert a spot kick was against Southampton at home in a 0-0 draw.
The Saints’ unsaintly distraction tactics appeared to rub off on Milner as he ran up nervously to take the penalty and consequently missed- which was very out of character.
This was Milner’s first spot kick miss since joining the Reds in 2015, and ended his 100% penalty conversion rate; which stood at ten penalties scored from ten attempts.
Whilst certain players’ enthusiasm and desire is questionable at certain times, that is not the case with Milner. His work ethic is extremely refreshing to watch and he is not one to moan or dispute decisions made by Klopp, illustrated by his willingness to switch to left back without any questions asked.
Although Milner has carried out a fine job in his new role, will there be room for him next season?
Liverpool’s intention to recruit an actual left back has become evident, pursuing the likes of Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand, and Monaco’s Benjamin Mendy.
But what does this mean for Milner?
The Reds’ jam packed midfield which contains: Emre Can, Adam Lallana, Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Lucas, leaves little room for the workaholic, Milner. This is compounded by the fact that summer signings in midfield are also very probable- limiting his chances even further.
As vice captain, it is clear he possesses valuable traits which benefit the team, but it proves challenging to determine who would be removed from the squad to cater for his relocation in the heart of the side.
Will he take up more of a sporadic role? Or will he be left on the bench frequently, with the potential to come on and change the game?
Depriving Milner of minutes next season could potentially spell the end of his Liverpool career, as he may wish to play a more instrumental role elsewhere.
The Reds would be very foolish to dispose of a player of Milner’s calibre, Klopp must find a way of squeezing him into his plans, because it is clear; he still has plenty to offer.
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