James Milner was signed by Liverpool on a free transfer and was officially unveiled today and the England midfielder spent his first day at Melwood on Monday as the squad began pre-season training. Liverpool fought off serious competition from Arsenal for the midfielder’s signature.
Milner said, “To sign for a club as big as Liverpool with the history they’ve got and the place it is – I’m just ready to get started I suppose. Liverpool is a great fit for me as a club. It’s a huge club and there is a lot of pressure every time you step out onto that field. I’ve played in front of the Anfield crowd and it’ll be nice to be on the other side of the fans now! The atmosphere they create is fantastic and probably some of the best atmospheres I’ve played in in England, so to have them supporting me is definitely going to be an amazing feeling.”
One of the reasons why Milner was said to beso adamant about leaving Manchester City was the fact that he wasn’t used in his preferred central position by Manuel Pellegrini. Of course, it is a massive advantage for any manager to have a versatile player within his ranks, but it is understandable for a player to want to move to a place where he could play in his preferred position – central midfield – where he did so well at the beginning of his career at Aston Villa.
When asked what attracted him to the big move, the 29 year-old said, “I’ve been very fortunate to play for some massive clubs during my career so far and this is another one. It’s a great challenge for me. I want to play football and play more centrally if I can – and that’s where the manager said he sees me playing. That’s a big thing for me coming to the later stages of my career – I’m not going to say the end of my career because I still feel I have plenty of football left in me! – I want to play as much football as I can. When I’m sat at 45 and retired, I want to look back and see what I’ve done and that I’ve played games, rather than having come to the end of my career and tailed off.”
He added specifically on Brendan Rodgers’ role in persuading him to join the Anfield outfit, “He was a massive part, to be honest. The club doesn’t need a lot of selling about what a great club it is, with all the history, the support and the squad they have. But speaking to the manager and what his plans were for me, things I’ve heard about him from other players – I was speaking to Stevie at England and people like that – and what he said to me made me want to come and play for him straight away.”
Milner was given the number 7 jersey, the same he had at Manchester City, and the player could feel the pressure of the number as a lot of Liverpool greats including Kenny Dalgish have played with that number at the back, last of them being the talismanic Luis Suarez.
The player however, shook it off and said, “I was seven at Man City, but at a club like Liverpool you can wear any number on the squad and it’ll have been filled with amazing players who have worn it before. I know seven is a special number for this football club and hopefully I can be a special player for this club. But as I said, with the success this club has had over its history, you could pick any single number from the squad list and you’ll be wearing a special shirt. Hopefully I can do the shirt proud and win plenty of matches for this football club.”
Top Image Courtesy: Liverpool’s official website