Premier League preview: Milner’s value for money

Liverpool midfielder James Milner
Liverpool midfielder James Milner
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Midfielder James Milner may have been one of the cheapest acquisitions in Liverpool’s summer recruitment programme, but he could yet prove to be the shrewdest.

The 29-year-old England international arrived at Anfield after allowing his contract with Manchester City to expire.

And while his significant weekly wage does not exactly make him a “free” transfer, the Reds are certain to get value for money.

Milner’s reputation as a good, honest, no-nonsense professional, is often used as a stick to beat him with but, in truth, Liverpool needed someone with his experience and reliability to fill the huge hole left by departed captain Steven Gerrard. While he is in no way a direct replacement, he will bring some authority to a side which lacked leaders in the absence of Gerrard.

“Liverpool is a great fit for me as a club. It’s a huge club and there is a lot of pressure every time you step out on to that field,” said Milner.

“If you look at the squad there is a great mix of home-grown British players and foreign lads but there are also quite a lot of younger players.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be playing for maybe 13 years but hopefully I can bring 
that experience to the squad and help those younger guys along.

“Obviously Liverpool came so close a couple of years ago to winning the league and hopefully my experience can help us get into that position again. And if I can use the experience of winning trophies to help the younger guys hopefully it can help get us over the line and win some silverware.”

Liverpool’s failure to retain their Champions League status forced another summer of change at Anfield.

Assistant manager Colin Pascoe and coach Mike Marsh were dispensed with in favour of a new backroom team of England Under-19s manager Sean O’Driscoll, former Reds midfielder Gary McAllister and academy coach Pepijn Lijnders.

On the playing front, seven players have been drafted in as, in addition to Milner, there was the recruitment of Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke, Hoffenheim forward Roberto Firmino, Burnley’s England Under-21 striker Danny Ings and Southampton right-back Nathaniel Clyne sought to provide solutions in positions where Liverpool were deficient last season, with fellow new arrivals Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan and Charlton’s Joe Gomez not expected to contribute greatly.

The record £49m sale of Raheem Sterling to Manchester City has ended a six-month saga after he refused to sign a new contract.

That should hopefully end the upheaval within the squad, with the remaining departures – possibly Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini, Jose Enrique and Rickie Lambert – among those Rodgers has decided have no future at the club.