Jurgen Klopp may have ruled out James Milner retiring in the summer, but that does not mean he will necessarily be continuing his career at Liverpool – after a report named two Premier League suitors for his signature.
James Milner has been one of Klopp’s most trusted players since joining Liverpool from Manchester City on a free transfer in 2015. The midfielder has made 274 appearances for the club, more than for any of his previous employers.
But with a contract expiring at the end of the season, there are doubts over what the future holds for the 36-year-old. His fitness levels remain impressive for his age, but he is no longer a regular starter.
Klopp has given him seven starts in the Premier League so far this season. He plans to offer him a new contract beyond the summer, but the final decision will be Milner’s.
And it appears other clubs may be trying to give the former England international something to think about. According to Fichajes, Crystal Palace and Watford are showing an interest in his services.
In fact, both “intend to make moves” in the summer, aware of what he can still contribute for a lower-ranking Premier League club.
Either move would see Leeds-born Milner move down south for the first time since a 2003 loan spell at Swindon.
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It has long been thought he may finish his career by returning to his hometown club, now of Premier League level again themselves. However, Fichajes believe it is Palace and Watford in the race to sign him.
Watford, admittedly, may be in the Championship next season since they are currently in the relegation zone. Palace, on the other hand, look to be safe but there is still a way to go mathematically.
Milner has spent his entire career, apart from his month-long spell with Swindon, in the top flight. If he leaves Liverpool for one last hurrah elsewhere, it seems reasonable to expect him to want to stay in the Premier League.
Whether the emotional return to Leeds can become an option is unclear for now. But interest from Palace and Watford could be more concrete.
Klopp expects James Milner to keep going
Recently, Klopp denied Milner would be retiring this summer. Although not confirming he would be staying with Liverpool, the manager explained why the midfielder can still cut it at the top level.
He said: “Talks will happen with Milly. We will see.
“There is no chance he will retire next year. He is desperate to play on. I understand that. Life after football is much longer than your career so it makes sense to extend playing as long as you can. It is better than other things.
“Milly will be fine after his career as well. But he obviously loves what he is doing and he will play football next year, definitely.”
Only three players have ever featured in more Premier League games than Milner. Gareth Barry, Ryan Giggs and Frank Lampard are the only ones with more appearances in the competition than him.
Prolonging his career for an extra year with any top-flight club could give him a realistic chance of catching Lampard and essentially making it onto a hypothetical podium.