The Reds boss praised the Englishman’s professionalism and versatility
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has highly praised midfielder-turned-left-back James Milner by claiming the former England international is amongst the top five players he has worked with.
The German coach has worked with the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Mario Gotze, Marco Reus, Ilkay Gundogan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mats Hummels and Henrikh Mkhitaryan during his days at Borussia Dortmund.
But Klopp insists the experienced unsung hero can play another five or six years at the highest level, having arrived at the club as a midfielder before finding his place in the team at left-back this season.
Milner has replaced Alberto Moreno, who had become a liability at left-back, and performed admirably – making him one of a number of players who haven’t received the praise they’ve deserved in the Premier League so far this campaign.
“I have been very lucky to surround myself with great professionals, but Milly is 100 per cent in the top five. Yes, he is the perfect professional.” said Klopp, who has featured Milner, who turns 31 in January, in 14 of Liverpool’s 16 league games this campaign.
“When I heard that Liverpool had signed him, I thought it was really good and that was at a time I had no idea that I would be part of his football development,” Klopp admitted.
“I know Milly and he wants to play always. Maybe that was not the case at City and it made sense to leave.
“From the outside, it looks a difficult transition – to come from a wide position or central midfield to specialist role at full-back.
“But James is football-smart, has good instincts and is quick, so he is good.
“It says more about his quality to make that switch. It would not have been the smartest decision if he said he didn’t want to do it.
“He has had to deal with situations like this in a long career already. He was open and I was not surprised by that.
“I am not 100 per cent sure what his future holds in this position, but he is comfortable and, with the ball especially, he looks assured.
“For sure he has five or six really good years.”
The Reds battled Tottenham for the signature of Milner, before Brendan Rodgers signed him as a free transfer in the summer of 2015, and the former Manchester City midfielder has proved his worth in his one and half seasons at Anfield.