By 90Min
September 19, 2018

As the curtains drew on what was a memorable and thrilling season for Liverpool which ultimately fell short of glory in Kiev, eyes were almost immediately refocused on what would be an aggressive summer transfer window. 

A world class goalkeeper, an extra attacker for much needed depth and two quality midfielders were added to the fold at Anfield. 

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The summer evolution delighted fans but the expensive, new faces brought in to take Liverpool to that elusive next level posed a significant threat to some of the old guard at Anfield - no least James Milner's position in the middle of the park.

Taking an adjustment period into account, Naby Keita and Fabinho were all but unanimously considered to be shoo-ins for Jurgen Klopp's best possible starting lineup, leaving what would be one just position for Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijanldum and Milner to compete for. Adam Lallana and Alex Oxalde-Chamberlain (upon return from injury) could also be thrown into that crowded market.

While things looked grim for Milner, who has been accustomed to shifting his position for the good of the team, Klopp instead opted to play the long game with Fabinho and Keita, and the former Man City star has seized his early opportunity to make it all but impossible for him to be overlooked in his favoured midfield position. 

In the summer few would have considered the former England international as a man to be an integral component of what many Liverpool fans had hoped would be tilt at the title this term, but six games into the Reds' season and he is proving every single one of his doubters wrong. 

Six games. Two goals. Two assists. Multiple man of the match awards. More than ten chances created and countless kilometres of hard work later and Liverpool remain undefeated, with Milner at the fore of the Reds' relentless style of play.

His age (32) is often thrown around as a marker of what you should expect from him, but his commitment to the game and his physical state has seen him prosper where others have previously dropped off.

In pre-season testing Milner came out on top against his teammates in the lactate fitness test - a measurement of aerobic endurance - as he was the last man standing as others dropped off as both the distance ran and speed picked up. 

It sees him suit Klopp's system down to the ground, and his performances in the Premier League and Champions League have only furthered this notion. 

He is the most experienced player on the field and has enjoyed success which most of the current batch of Liverpool players have yet to experience, yet his hunger and determination remains as fierce as ever - just ask Neymar..

Milner's not flashy, nor does he seek the limelight but his subtle interference in the opposition half has already played its role in creating two game winning moments this term. Firstly, a tackle against Brighton ended with Mohamed Salah's match winning goal, and then another against Kylian Mbappe which resulted in Roberto Firmino scoring a dramatic winner in the Champions League

However, it is not just in the final third where he does his best work. His positional awareness and willingness to sacrifice his own game sees him plug holes in the defence when the likes of Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold bomb forward down their respective flanks. 

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Intelligent passing and deliveries into the box, as well as a cool head on the penalty spot makes him a triple threat - a man equally prepared to launch a counter attack as he is to stop the oppositions. 


While Fabinho and Keita and Liverpool's fellow midfielders each possess similar qualities,   Milner is currently playing as though he is three players in one - a Mr. Reliable with whom the Reds would feel the absence of should he fail to start a game. 


As aforementioned it is a sentiment few would have considered when Liverpool opened the new campaign against West Ham in August.

It is not to say Milner is perfect in every facet of the game, but having only missed only 23 minutes of action to date he has shown to Klopp, the Liverpool faithful and the rest of the league that his career is not winding down, it is only getting better. 


Not bad for a free transfer. 

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