James Milner. Social media inspiration. Midfield man. Willing runner. Deceptively creative. Hard working. Experienced. Flexible. Consummate professional. Overrated. Underrated. Liverpool player? Milner has long been linked to Liverpool, and with no contract extensions signed with only a couple of games left in the Premier League season, it is almost certain that this is his last season with Manchester City. It seems that Liverpool's chase for Milner is over.
Two factors appear to have helped Liverpool beat reported interest from Arsenal: playing time in central midfield and stability for his family as he'll continue to live in North West England. Matching his £100,000 per week salary demands won't hurt either. The 29-year-old is one of the Premier League's fittest players, regularly covering long distances per game without wheezing when the referee signals the game is over with a blow of a whistle. In his five seasons at Manchester City, Milner only broke the 2000 minute barrier once with 23 starts and 9 substitute appearances in his debut season. Since then, he's been more of a trusted midfield rotation player who can feature effectively in a variety of positions than a regular starter.
Liverpool may not offer Champions League football but present Milner with a chance to play for another big club in England while he's still around his peak as a player. It would be hard to imagine Milner playing well for Liverpool in midfield but subsequently dropped upon another important player regaining fitness. There's a real opportunity for incoming and existing players to become one of Liverpool's key figures on the field in the absence of Steven Gerrard, something that may have played a role in Milner choosing Liverpool if reports are indeed accurate.
There may be quibbles with the wages and whether the player represents the step up Liverpool require to improve, but James Milner wasn't a passenger for a side that's won two league title and two domestic cups. He may not have been a star in the mould of David Silva, Yaya Touré, or Sergio Agüero but is a good player who'd give Liverpool energy, diligence, experience, and creativity in midfield. Without a transfer fee, this represents a good move for Liverpool. Signing-on fees and wages will ensure that this isn't a cheap transfer but a reasonable one for a club in need of players who can push Liverpool forward.