Liverpool are confident of reaching an agreement to bring James Milner to Anfield once his Manchester City contract expires at the end of the month.
There are two fairly obvious reasons why this would be a great piece of business, especially with there being no transfer fee involved.
One is that, as you would expect of someone who has featured in 63 of top-two regulars Manchester City’s 76 Premier League matches over the past two seasons, he is an upgrade on what they already have at the club, while his utility is further enhanced by his versatility.
The other is that after a few years of missing out on top targets like Willian, Alexis Sanchez and Memphis Depay to top-flight rivals, it will improve their perception to successfully seduce a player who has been linked to Arsenal and who Manuel Pellegrini has appeared keen to retain.
Less discussed are the Reds’ prospects of profiting from “the Milner bounce”. Contrary to Graeme Souness’ mid-2000s claim that you will never win anything with a team full of James Milners, the two sides to have invested in the England international since then enjoyed an immediate uplift.
Aston Villa spent £12 million on him in 2008 and went on to deliver their most impressive campaign points-wise (62) in 13 years. They were third in the division as late on as mid-February, winning 15 and drawing six of their opening 25 games. The next season saw them two points better off still.
It was a similar story at Manchester City, who he joined in an estimated £26 million package in the aftermath of their disappointing 2009/10, when their top-four target was sabotaged by Tottenham.
With Milner starting 61% of their Premier League fixtures, they would recover from that blow to achieve their first top-three finish in 34 years. The following year of course saw them make further gains to ascend to the very top of the table.
Liverpool are certainly in need of this Milner lift-off having dropped down four places and 22 points in 2014/15 in ranking sixth, and they are [3.65] to provide him with the top-four position which he has become accustomed to.
It isn’t yet clear who the winger’s manager will be if he does move to Merseyside. Brendan Rodgers is facing a review from his superiors and is [2.56] to be gone before the opening day of 2015/16.