James Milner is approaching the end of his contract at Manchester City and the fact that he hasn’t signed a new contract yet shows that he isn’t certain in where his future lies. He has been a regular for the champions this season, and he is playing well, showing that he is in the peak of his career. The midfielder will be attractive to a number of clubs, both domestically and abroad, given that he can play various positions and his experience will appeal to other clubs. City will be keen to keep him as he is a key part of their homegrown quota and with Frank Lampard departing in the summer, they can’t afford for their quota to fall too low, especially with FFP becoming more of a problem.
The midfielder has played in 18 of the league games so far, starting ten, while he also played in all six of their Champions League games. This highlights his importance to Manchester City, with his performances being impressive. He has recorded five assists in the league, which emphasises the creative side of his game. Meanwhile his two goals in the FA Cup were pivotal in their progression to the next round. Milner is too important for City to lose, especially on a free transfer. The former Aston Villa player is also an excellent option for Manuel Pellegrini in the big matches, as he offers a more conservative choice in midfield.
This season, he has played across the midfield and up front, which shows why he is an important asset for City, as he has the ability to provide quality squad depth in all midfield positions. There is no player who offers what Milner does to the Manchester City squad and for that reason they need to press ahead and make sure Milner remains at the club for the next two or three seasons. Although City have a lot of money, Milner will be difficult to replace as he offers versatility and he is homegrown. Furthermore, Pellegrini knows what Milner brings, he is a reliable, consistent performer. City need players like him alongside the likes of Sergio Aguero and David Silva.
There will be no shortage of interest in the midfielder if he does indeed leave on a free. Liverpool, Spurs, Everton and maybe even Arsenal will all be looking at Milner as a player who could add quality to their midfield. These clubs are regularly featuring in the upper echelons of the league, which will be important to Milner as he will want a club in European competition. These clubs may be willing to play Milner in his favoured position of central midfield, which City have been reluctant to do given they have Lampard, Yaya Toure, Fernandinho and Fernando already in these spots.
Moreover a move to a club like Liverpool or Spurs will see Milner’s own importance to the team increase, which may appeal to him as he isn’t a key name in the starting eleven for Manchester City. He is in the peak of his career and the next contract he signs will be his last big one in the game, it has to be the right one. If he was three or four years younger, Milner would have already signed the contract at Manchester City, but he knows this summer is pivotal for his career. He’s won trophies at the Etihad Stadium and he may opt for first team football over the money and success on offer at Manchester City.
This is going to be something that continues to worry City fans over the next couple of months. It’s clear that the longer this drags on, the more likely it appears that he will be leaving the club this summer. They will want to keep Milner for the next few seasons, but he may see a move as the best thing for him and his career. He has been at the club for over four years and may see this summer as the perfect time to part ways. City remain confident of keeping him. This is definitely one to follow.