Liverpool and FSG are on the verge of a transfer loss that has infuriated Lionel Messi and Neymar | soccer4u
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Liverpool and FSG are on the verge of a transfer loss that has infuriated Lionel Messi and Neymar



In this week’s Blood Red, Ian Doyle addresses the impact James Milner has had at Liverpool as he prepares to leave after eight years.

He came in vain and will go in vain. In between, however, James Milner made an almost invaluable contribution to Liverpool FC under Jürgen Klopp.

This week’s news – Milner – will once again miss the chance to extend his career at Anfield and instead head for new pastures – Brighton and Hove Albion are said to be his next destinations – will sever ties with the all-conquering United side Reds before going on hiatus for another three years. .

The fact that Klopp has always maintained that there will be a place for Milner while he is in charge underlines the appreciation the Liverpool manager has for the midfielder. Much like Roberto Firmino – another set to leave at the end of the season – Milner was a gift Klopp inherited from his predecessor Brendan Rodgers and the Reds recruitment team, having preceded the German on a free transfer from Manchester City a few months. took control in October 2015.

Consider it. Milner’s brief appearance from the bench at home against Fulham in the Premier League in midweek was his 328th appearance for the club and put him just behind longtime Terry McDermott. A few weeks ago, Milner passed the tally for the legendary Kevin Keegan.

However, longevity is one thing. And while a lot of attention is rightfully paid to Milner’s influence in the dressing room – new signings and academy graduates will regularly name him as a big help – that would count for little if the player didn’t set an example on the pitch and regularly shine with his versatility, composure and experience. Milner was named Jordan Henderson’s assistant captain by Rodgers upon his arrival, and it is particularly telling that Klopp saw no reason to switch roles.

After starting his debut season with defeats in the League Cup and Europa League finals, Milner then moved to left-back the following season, helping Liverpool to a top four. The following year, back in midfield, he contributed a Champions League record assists and started the final defeat against Real Madrid.

When the Reds went one better in 2019, Milner rattled Lionel Messi to such an extent he was labelled a “donkey” by the Barcelona man during the first leg of the semi-final and, in the return, was forced to switch from midfield to left-back at half-time. But in characteristic style, it was Milner taking the ball to the corner flag to see out time as the final whistle blew on Anfield’s most memorable night.

On the bench for the final, he came on and deflected for a corner from which Divock Origi sealed a 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur.

Milner’s fingerprints are all over Liverpool’s successes under Klopp, his penalties at home and away against Leicester City were crucial in the 2020 league season, while his penalties propelled the Reds to shoot-out success against Chelsea in the league and FA Cup last season.

“What happened in the last seven and a half years, all the good stuff, nothing would have happened without James Milner,” Klopp said on Friday.

At 37, though, time is catching up with Milner. Nothing lasts forever. While appearing in all bar one of Liverpool’s last 19 games, only three have been as a starter and none of his 10 most recent Premier League outings have lasted half-an-hour. Milner has made only six league starts this season. The mind may be willing but the body is perhaps now only capable of keeping pace in short bursts.

With Stefan Bajcetic breaking through this term and both Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott stepping up their progress, Milner perhaps accepts the time is right – even with fellow midfielders Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also leaving this summer – to hand over to the next generation.

And he would know, having made his debut for Leeds United in 2002 aged just 16. In fact, it was no coincidence that Milner was the only first-team player present when an Under-23 side won the FA Cup fourth round replay against Shrewsbury Town at Anfield in February 2020 – Pre-match advice from his older colleague in the locker room before being cheered on from the dugout.

In an age of eye-watering transfer fees, flashy highlights reels and short attention spans, the no-nonsense approach of Milner was never going to appeal to everyone, even if the Anfield crowd have always appreciated the strength of his commitment and tackling. No reputation has been too grand. Just ask Neymar.

Liverpool’s greatest-ever free transfer? Most probably. And Milner serves as a reminder that while the right player doesn’t have to cost a fortune., experience can be priceless. The Klopp era is losing one of its foundations.


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