James Milner has today finally completed his move to Manchester City for £16 million plus £8 million rated Irishmen, Stevie Ireland, to end the longest transfer saga of the summer.
Milner, 24, is a product of the Leeds United academy after joining his childhood club at the age of ten. He burst onto the scene during Leeds Boxing Day game in 2002 against Sunderland where he became the youngest player to score in the Premiership at 16 years old. He continued to impress on the Premiership scene with further promising performances at such a young age and showed great natural ability with both feet. He was loaned to Swindon Town to gain consistent first team chances and played six times for the club and chipped in with two goals.
He was sold to Bobby Robson’s Newcastle United for an initial fee of £3.6m on a five year deal after Leeds were relegated. However, his club progress was hampered when his mentor Bobby Robson was replaced by Graeme Souness and he was loaned to Villa, where his good performances and promising potential made him a firm favourite with the club. But this potential was still recognised by Newcastle who rejected Villa’s bid to sign Milner on a permanent basis. But Villa eventually got their man in 2008 when he joined the club and began a excellent 2 year spell with the Premiership side, which seen his reputation rise under Martin O’Neil.
His second spell at the club saw him thrive for Villa where he scored 19 goals in 93 appearances and was one of the important factors which helped Villa reach the 2009 Carling cup final against United, in which he scored Villa’s only goal in a 2-1 defeat at Wembley.
Milner has also been excellent for England at many different ages, having representing England at U-15, U-17, U-21 and the senior side. He made his U-21 debut under Peter Taylor against Sweden in 2004. He went on to score his first goal for the U-21’s against Wales and set up Darren Bent to earn England a 2-1 victory. Milner went on to play 46 times for the U-21’s and scored 9 goals. He eventually progressed to the senior side and made his competitive debut against Croatia at Wembley during a World cup qualification game in September 2009.
Milner is known for being extremely accurate with his passing and having the ability to unlock defences. He is an tenacious footballer who will add drive and passion to City’s midfield and will add to the amazing set piece specialists City already have with the likes of Balotelli, Kolarov and Tevez. Milner’s most impressive season during the 2009-10 Premiership campaign saw him awarded the PFA young player of the year award and also voted into the PFA Premiership team of the year to cap off a stunning season. I think Mancini will pair Milner with Yaya Toure and Nigel De Jong when possible in a 3 man midfield, which will see De Jong sit back and protect the defence, with Milner and Toure either side being box to box midfielders.
Are you happy with the signing of Milner at the expense of Ireland going into the opposite direction?