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Rumour Mongering: Liverpool vs. Arsenal for James Milner?

Manchester City's all-purpose midfield man is believed to be a summer target for Liverpool and Arsenal if he becomes a free agent.

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James Milner is one of those types of English players who will give a team a certain level of competitiveness and commitment each game. He takes a disciplined approach to his conditioning as he's one of the fittest athletes around with impressive levels of stamina, offers flexibility as he can play in numerous positions, and toils on the field in pursuit of victory. Milner's contract also expires at the end of the season and the hard-working midfielder hasn't agreed a fresh contract with the club, so his hard work may feature elsewhere next season.

After scoring 7 goals and registering 12 assists in 36 games (he started all of them) for Aston Villa in 2009/2010, James Milner has been an important squad player at Manchester City. He turns 29 next month but if he was available on a free transfer in the summer, he'd be a player that a few of the best clubs in England would look at. He has created five goals in 933 Premier League minutes this season (nine starts and seven substitute appearances) and scored a goal in the Champions League after being involved in every group stage game.

Realistically, Milner wouldn't or shouldn't be a regular starter for the top two in midfield but is part of what clubs such as Manchester City and Chelsea possess: industrious strength in depth. 29 could be the right age for Milner to get regular football at a Premier League club that can offer or push for Champions League football. Such a club would possess a less than robust midfield and require the steady yet deceptively creative talents of the Englishman. Enter Arsenal and Liverpool, two clubs that want to sign the "Man City ace" according to the Daily Express.

Manuel Pellegrini has counted on the player's contribution this season, something that the paper aptly points out with involvement in "all but two of City's 26 games in all competitions this season" and seems eager for the player to renew his contract with the Premier League's defending champions. "I think they are continuing to have conversations and we hope he'll arrive at it soon," the Man City head coach/manager/gaffer said at some undefined time. "I always say he's a very important player for us. He always make a contribution whether he starts or comes on."

Milner would probably ask for at least 100k a week if he was to sign without Liverpool having to pay a transfer fee, although one would presume that his signing on fee would be larger than customary in the event of refusing to renew his contract with Manchester City. Liverpool lack athleticism in midfield with the exception of Emre Can and Jordan Henderson, and the 28-year-old would provide a steady creative presence after his game has matured in the four-and-a-half seasons spent at Manchester City. He was linked in the summer when Liverpool were looking to build on a surprise second-placed finish in the Premier League, and Brendan Rodgers' midfield still looks in need of restructuring.

Kolo Touré has shown what experience in terms of games and trophies can bring to the side, and Milner would still have a number of years productivity to offer. Even if he wasn't going follow many of his colleagues who have renewed their contracts in recent months, would he choose Liverpool over other offers if Champions League football wasn't available at Anfield? Manchester City need as many home-grown players as possible and it would make little sense to lose one that has continued to prove his value to the squad. It's unlikely Manchester City would let him go, but pre-contract agreements can be signed next month by players whose contracts expire in the summer, so this story may be one to watch even if a resolution may be delayed until the end of the season.

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