With the end of the Arsenal season already underway, reports have sprung up that the Gunners are reportedly showing massive interest and even leading the race to sign Premier league champions – Manchester City’s midfielder.
According to the Guardian, Arsenal want to sign James Milner from City after the England midfielder informed the newly crowned Premier League champions he would like a transfer. Liverpool are also interested but the FA Cup winners, Arsenal, are leading the way as it stands.
Milner’s decision creates a serious issue for City at a time when they are already struggling to meet the stipulations set by the Premier League and Uefa about meeting the homegrown player rule. If Milner left, Joe Hart could be the only Englishman left at the club with any chance of playing regularly next season.
City would be reluctant to lose Milner even without those regulations and hope the offer of a lucrative four-year contract will persuade him to change his mind. Yet the player informed them last month of his decision and is strongly tempted by the interest from Arsenal and Liverpool. If City refuse to entertain the idea, his preference is currently to stay until he is eligible for a free transfer next summer rather than committing to a new deal.
Milner’s belief is that he would get more games elsewhere and the chance to play in the central midfield position that has continually been denied him at City. His complaint predominantly stems around his lack of matches, having started only 12 times in the league this season, but he has been frustrated as well that when he joined the club from Aston Villa in 2010 he was told it was to play in central midfield. Instead he has been largely used as a wide midfielder by Roberto Mancini and now Manuel Pellegrini.
Arsenal are planning a £10m offer and Arsène Wenger will try to sell the club to Milner by offering to restore him to a central role. Wenger sees the England international as having the experience and mobility to provide competition for Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini.
Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, is another admirer but the Premier League runners-up have yet to decide whether to turn their interest into a firm bid as they weigh up other targets. Tottenham and, more recently, Everton have also made inquiries behind the scenes as it has become apparent among the league’s top clubs that he wants to make himself available.
City will try to nip the speculation in the bud by offering the kind of financial package that might be beyond their rivals but what they cannot promise is regular football and Milner, though enjoying playing for a successful club, has already made it clear that is the crux of the matter. If anything, he is concerned his chances might be further reduced by more signings this summer.
The chances of City allowing him to leave are, however, complicated by the fact that he and Joe Hart were the only two Englishmen to play regularly for Manuel Pellegrini’s team last season.
Milner is due to take part in England’s training camp in Portugal this week and Roy Hodgson has already made it clear that he does not want his players deciding their futures while they are on international duty. However, the England manager also admitted it would be “naive” to think there might not be any crossover.