The club have been taking some stick this week from the usual no nothing pundits who are berating us for ‘letting James Milner go’.
Well it would appear this is far from the truth with new rumours of a £165k pw package being on the table surfacing in the last couple of days. (or 130 or 100 plus top ups blah blah…)
It’s not the first time that details of the negotiations have leaked – earlier in the year the rumour was that Jimmy was after a 3 year extension while the club were only prepared to offer 2. Which also makes the ‘turning down a £34 MILLION package’ (based on, by my rough maths, 4 years x £165k pw) a little odd – particularly when today it’s Arsenal with the £100k pw deal on the table compared with Liverpool last week.
The simple fact is we can’t know the full details behind the negotiations but we can speculate about and discuss the possible benefits, losses and sticking points.
Let’s start with the most quoted issue…
“He wants more game time”
Lets start with the bare facts – Jimmy has matched last year’s playing time, with one game to go, having played in 44 matches (27 starts 17 sub). He has arguably played in the most important games too, having played in all of the top 4 clashes and all of the Champions League games. Would he get more game time next season? Maybe, he is increasing year on year slightly but I can’t see it personally and new arrivals may even lower time on the pitch so you can see his concern.
Also if you view the stats on Squawka compared to Navas you actually find his overall quality and scores are lower (except in the goals department) so the right wing slot will continue to be difficult for him to own full time regardless.
Rightly or wrongly Milner is seen as a utility player by most and his greatest asset is the source of his own annoyance. Coming back to time on the pitch, it is easier to become a feature in the team if you dominate a particular slot. James simply doesn’t do that.
The question therefore for him is will I get more game time elsewhere?
Looking at that objectively: Chelsea – no, Man U – no, Arsenal – probably not, Liverpool – maybe. Others – yes probably. Realistically his choice boils down to stay at City and play a part on good money with the chance of trophies or take a pay cut to play more often but probably only have an outside chance of a cup.
Change the focus to City then. What do we gain by keeping him on?
Firstly we keep a very versatile player who we can rely on to sweat blood and tears every minute he’s on the pitch. Secondly an English player with those pesky homegrown laws. Thirdly a known quantity when it comes to Premier League football.
For me talk of a 4 year contract makes no sense at all, so lets look at the figures. What will it take to replace him? He’s 29 so 4 years is 33 and if the £165k is to be believed that’s £34m on a decent but not world beating player who wouldn’t have masses of (if any) resale value. However a top class replacement would cost that plus salary on top – worth it? Maybe. A Ross Barkley say, might be grabbed (Optimistically) for £30m + £100k pw so £10m more over 4 years for a younger model. I’d certainly gamble on that. If we were talking a 3 year extension on £120k pw however (£18.5m) what would you get for that in the current market? The answer is nothing of proven quality so keeping him would be a no brainer.
There are unconfirmed reports that he doesn’t believe Pellegrini trusts him, but as stated earlier The Charming Man always appears to go for him in important matches, hardly the action of someone who doesn’t believe you’re up to the task! If so he might have been waiting to see if the axe was to fall at the end of the season. Ironically his latest run in the team may just have saved Pelle as the storm to the finish and attainment of a CL group spot makes the season not quite as bad as it might once have been.
So now we all play the waiting game. What Jimmy’s motivations and intentions are we will soon find out and at least we can feel the club has made some effort to keep him. On a personal level I hope he stays, as someone who has played across various positions I’ve got more appreciation than most for the versatile players, the Bob Brightwells, the Gary Speeds and yes the James Milners.
If he does leave he will go with our best wishes but we will move on all the same.
Over to you James….