Liverpool would be suffering a massive loss if they cannot convince James Milner to stay, according to one pundit who has weighed up the midfielder’s options.
There are a number of contract situations for Liverpool to deal with at present. They are focusing on what to do with their famed front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, all of whom have terms expiring at the end of next season.
But an even more pressing issue is that of James Milner. The dependable midfielder is out of contract this June.
At the age of 36, he remains a fundamental member of Jurgen Klopp’s squad. Even though he is no longer a regular starter, he has still amassed 25 appearances so far this season.
Milner has been drawing interest from a number of other Premier League clubs. One report earlier this week named Crystal Palace and Watford as potential suitors.
It was followed by rumours of a return to Aston Villa. Alternatively still, the idea of going all the way back to boyhood club Leeds has often been considered a possibility.
But Liverpool still want to keep the former England international. In fact, they are reported to have opened talks over a one-year contract extension.
Milner must now decide whether he wants to stay with the club in a reduced capacity, or have one last hurrah as a regular elsewhere.
One man who thinks Liverpool should be doing all they can to keep Milner is his former Villa teammate Kevin Phillips – who thinks he is “crucial” for the club.
“It would be a big blow to lose him,” Phillips told Football Insider.
Could Leeds United return be on the cards for James Milner?
Liverpool have offered Milner a new contract but will he stay with Aston Villa and Leeds United interested
“It depends on the player. Does he want to play regularly or is he happy with the role in the background, talking to the young players, helping young players develop and being a leader alongside Jordan Henderson?
“Naturally, I’m not surprised Klopp wants to have contract talks with him because he’s an unbelievable professional.
“He’s a player you want to have in and around your group. He’s not necessarily going to play every week but not only is he not going to cause you any issues, but he’s also a massive help around the dressing room.
“It’s crucial to have people like that in your football club.”
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 275 appearances for the club, more than for any of his previous employers.
It is now up to him whether to continue that association or not.
Another Liverpool exit expected
Meanwhile, Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson has backed the Reds to continue their ‘outstanding’ transfer strategy by selling another Klopp favourite for ‘big money’.
Liverpool have regularly sold fringe players for decent profit in recent years. That includes the likes of Rhian Brewster, Jordan Ibe, Dominic Solanke and Danny Ward.
One player who could be sold this summer is English centre-back Nat Phillips. The 24-year-old became a favourite for Klopp and Liverpool fans alike during a defensive shortage last term.
Phillips made 20 appearances across all competitions, including three in the Champions League knockout stages.
However, the Bolton-born defender is now out on loan with Bournemouth after falling down the pecking order at Anfield.
When asked about Phillips, Lawrenson said (via the Bournemouth Echo): “You get some players who come in, I mean Nat Phillips, he did really really well and he’s gone to Bournemouth on loan and they’ll sell him, and they’ll sell him for big money.
“This is something Arsene Wenger used to do [at Arsenal]. He’d bring promising players through, play them in the first-team before deciding they weren’t at the level.
“Then people would come in to buy them and you can say, ‘he’s played 15 games in the Premier League’ and hike up the price.
“Liverpool have locked onto that in the last few years and some of the sales have been outstanding.”
They could therefore cash in on Phillips. But it will be an interesting wait to see if Milner will leave for free or commit for another season.