Liverpool are gearing up for another round of contract talks after Jurgen Klopp ruled out retirement for Reds general James Milner.
Liverpool opted for a relatively quiet summer window last year when Ibrahima Konate became the only major arrival. Instead, the Reds hierarchy distributed their funds towards new contracts for several of their established stars.
Indeed, the likes of Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil Van Dijk, Fabinho and Andy Robertson all penned fresh terms in 2021. However, only half of the job was completed.
The fabled front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are all out of contract in the summer of 2023. Given Diogo Jota’s rise and Luis Diaz’s arrival, one or more of the trio could depart over the next 17 months.
But a more pressing concern regards midfield general James Milner. The 36-year-old has been a capable and dependable performer for much of his Liverpool career, though will be a free agent when the season concludes.
Milner’s role has diminished in recent seasons. Indeed, his 15 league appearances this season have generated just 609 minutes of action. Milner has mainly been utilised from the bench in the latter stages of matches to help see out a victory.
James Milner “definitely” won’t retire – Klopp
However, a price cannot be put on the leadership and experience he provides. And according to Klopp, Liverpool have plans afoot to offer a new contract.
That would see Milner enter his 20th season as a professional, and rule out the possibility of retirement. In Klopp’s words, there is “no chance” the veteran hangs up his boots just yet.
“Talks will happen with Milly. We will see,” said Klopp recently (via the Daily Mail).
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“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.”
There has always been speculation Milner could return to boyhood club Leeds United after leaving Liverpool. But for now at least, it appears Milner’s future will remain on Merseyside.
Simeone turns on Liverpool target
Meanwhile, Liverpool have received a ‘transfer boost’ after Diego Simeone fired back at the curious comments of transfer target Joao Felix.
Felix’s recent comments when detailing Atletico’s struggles raised eyebrows last week. The Portuguese forward told the Athletic: “I think we all know what the problem is [with the team], I don’t want to say though.”
That cryptic comment has predictably gone down like a lead balloon with the no-nonsense Simeone. When asked for a response prior to their chaotic 4-3 victory over Getafe on Saturday, Simeone snapped back (via the Daily Mail): “About what Joao said, you can ask him.
“I work according to the team. If he is clear about what the problem is, it would be good to know.”
Given Liverpool signed Luis Diaz in January, one might expect their transfer efforts next summer to focus on different areas. However, all three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah are out of contract in 2023.
The trio will all be over 30 when next season begins. It is not inconceivable that Liverpool’s frugal American owners opt to move on from one or more of the aging stars.
Felix would represent something of a gamble for Klopp’s side. Though the Liverpool Echo insist they may now be on ‘red alert’ with the chances of an Atletico exit now ‘increased’.