As the major European leagues now draw to a close and the opening of the summer transfer window looms, the rumors and speculation go into overdrive. One rumor that is currently circulating is that Manchester City midfielder, James Milner, is looking to leave the newly crowned Premier League champions.
The England midfielder has been a valuable squad player in his time at City, but his hunger to play more regularly could now lead him to join a new club this summer. It’s the age-old question: Are you better playing a bit part in a successful club winning numerous trophies, or would being a valuable first team player at a club winning quite possibly nothing be more fulfilling?
Milner actually seems to have some good options were he to leave City. Rumors also suggest that Arsenal and Liverpool would both have a keen interest in taking Milner, were he to become available. Although both of those are big clubs, you have to examine the role Milner would play at each of them to decide the best fit.
If Milner is leaving to play more first team football, then you would have to question whether going to Arsenal would help him in that quest. Milner is not really the type of player who can play the defensive midfield role that Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini have filled this season for Arsenal.
Players like Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere would both be ahead of him in the secondary central midfield spots and no less than Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski would all be ahead of him for the attacking roles. It’s difficult to see Milner filling any more of a significant role at Arsenal than he currently does at City and, in fairness, winning more trophies in doing so.
So what about Liverpool? Brendan Rodgers can be quite flexible in the way that he sets his team up tactically — it would depend on exactly what Rodgers has in mind for next season. But you would think Milner would get more games playing for Liverpool than he would Arsenal.
Especially if Rodgers commits to the diamond formation he has often used this season. Putting the mobility and work rate of Jordan Henderson and Milner around the soon-to-be 34-year-old Steven Gerrard would seem to be a wise move. Even out wide, with only Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling as genuine competition, Milner would get game time in those positions too.
Whether Milner would go to a club lower down the table than both of those two clubs is also possible if he really does want to play every week, even at the cost of regularly winning trophies. But surely if Milner does decide to leave City this summer, then another top four team should be his aim, and if he is given a choice, then Milner should choose Liverpool ahead of Arsenal.