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Rumour Mongering: Liverpool Lead the Chase for Manchester City Midfielder

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With no new deal settled and with a contract expiring this summer, James Milner is reportedly headed for the exit at Manchester City, and Liverpool are reportedly first in line to try to secure the versatile midfielder's signature.

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The month of January may yet hold some surprises for Liverpool supporters, many of whom have low expectations for the type of business the club will complete during the month. They've managed to pull a few signings out of nowhere over the years, but for the most part their transfer deals have unfolded gradually and in the public eye. Sign of the times and modern football and all that. So it's not particularly surprising that the most firm links to a transfer this month are not for a signing...this month, but one in the summer in the form of James Milner.

With a contract set to expire at the end of the current season, Milner's future is reportedly anything but settled, and The Times are reporting that the England international expects to be moving on in just a few months' time. At 29 years old and one of the more versatile players in the Premier League, he's going to command plenty of attention, and it makes sense that Brendan Rodgers and company would be making efforts to bring him in.

Milner is currently enjoying a spell as one of the more reliable performers in a City side that, despite their standing in the table, has been up and down, and he's fresh off a match-winning brace in the Third Round of the FA Cup against Sheffield Wednesday earlier in the week. The former Newcastle and Villa man has had a number of performances this season in the vein of his second-half display at Anfield last season that helped the visitors draw level, and while he hasn't been first-choice, he's managed to make an impact more often than not and can always be counted on to turn in a shift while featuring throughout the midfield and forward areas.

When added to his versatility and quality, that trait that makes him a valuable commodity, and it's easy to see why Rodgers would have a high level of interest. Like Jordan Henderson, Milner is a player that can be relied upon to feature wherever he's needed, and while he won't always blow the doors off with quality, often times his workrate and willingness are enough to see him through. As far as squad players go, few have been as dependable in recent seasons.

Squad players alone won't see Liverpool return to the heights they reached last season, as they'll need to continue to add quality throughout the rest of the squad with specialists, including goalscorers and goalkeepers. But Milner would be a positive addition to this Liverpool squad, and while he wouldn't be a signing to utilize this month, he would have a significant part to play over the next few seasons.