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Liverpool transfer exit is great news for $8.2m talent as Jürgen Klopp must solve 22-game dilemma



Liverpool transfer exit is great news for $8.2m talent as Jürgen Klopp must solve 22-game dilemma

Liverpool midfielder James Milner is, according to reports, poised to leave Anfield come the end of the season.

Football Insider’s David Lynch says that Milner has chosen to bring his eight-year stint on Merseyside to an end rather than staying for an extra season.

Burnley, fresh from securing promotion, battled it out with Brighton for his signature, but it’s the Seagulls who appear to have won the race.

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Milner may have hoped to play regular football for Jürgen Klopp’s side next season, but the club’s anticipated midfield rebuild has scuppered those plans.

But to call him solely a midfielder at this point would be something of a misnomer, because the veteran has played nearly half of his games as a right-back this season, as per Transfermarkt.

With Joe Gomez playing the role just four times, Milner has effectively been Klopp’s second choice behind Trent Alexander-Arnold.

That means his impending exit could be good news for this season’s forgotten man in Calvin Ramsay.

The Scotsman’s first year at Anfield following his $8.2m (£6.5m/€7.5m) move from Aberdeen has effectively been wrecked by injury problems, but even when he was fit from October until the end of the year, Klopp favored the safer pair of hands in Milner.

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Now, though, that competition has been removed, significantly improving Ramsay’s prospects of truly launching his Liverpool career in 2023/24.

On another level, though, Milner’s departure will present a puzzle to Klopp, who will lose one of his most trusted game management tactics.

Virtually every time Liverpool is leading and looking to see out a game, the German will turn to his vice-captain.

Milner has appeared in 28 of Liverpool’s 35 Premier League games so far this season, but he’s only started six of those. As the table below shows, his tally of 22 substitute appearances is at least 10 more than any of his teammates.

Liverpool players ranked by substitute appearances, 2022/23 Premier League

Player(s) Volume James Milner 22 Harvey Elliott, Roberto Firmino 11 Darwin Núñez, Kostas Tsimikas

10 Diogo Jota, Fábio Carvalho

8 Joe Gomez, Curtis Jones 6 Five players 5 Thiago 4 Trent Alexander-Arnold, Cody Gakpo 2 Joël Matip, Ben Doak 2 Four players 1

Some would dispute the wisdom of this recurring change, as we did in an article after the dramatic 4-3 win over Tottenham Hotspur, an alarming failure of game management. Liverpool needs ball retention experts in these scenarios, but Milner doesn’t fit that label, instead breaking up the rhythm of a game through fouls.

Against Spurs, that was nearly costly, with the Lilywhites equalizing from a free-kick he’d conceded.

Klopp, though, would point to the fact that Liverpool has scored 10 goals and conceded only four when Milner has been introduced, gaining a net two points.

And he would also argue that, Spurs aside, the 37-year-old has done exactly what’s required to get the Reds over the line in their recent spate of one-goal victories.

From next summer, though, the manager will have to find a new ‘closer’ in tight games.

Milner’s move to Brighton will open up opportunities for young players, but you get the sense that Klopp will rue the loss of his experience too.


Spanish-born Nigerian winger fires hat-trick for Liverpool youth team 

Spanish-born Nigerian winger Elijah Gift was the standout performer as Liverpool U18s beat Leicester City 6-1 in a friendly at the Academy on Saturday afternoon.

Gift, who started the 2022-2023 season as a first year scholar, netted a hat-trick for the Reds while Ranel Young with a brace and Keyrol Figueroa were the other scorers for the Anfield club.

The Spanish-Nigerian starlet was joined in the starting lineup by another Golden Eaglets-eligible player Fola Onanuga.

Gift was nominated for Liverpool’s Goal of the Month for April 2023 along with Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Darwin Núñez, Cody Gakpo, Luis Diaz, Joel Matip, Harvey Blair and Lewis Koumas.

The 16-year-old joined the Liverpool academy as an U12 player from Huddersfield Town, rising through the ranks before making his debut for the U18s against Stoke City in October 2022.

Overall, Gift bagged four goals for Liverpool’s youth teams this season including three in the U18 Premier League.

He made his UEFA Youth League debut against Porto on March 1, 2023.

Ifeanyi Emmanuel

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