Liverpool defied all expectations to progress to the Champions League final after a memorable night at Anfield. Going into the second leg after losing 3-0 at the Nou Camp, very few gave Liverpool any hope against Barcelona.
But the Reds somehow pulled off a 4-0 win with magnificent performances all over the pitch. And one player who silenced a few critics was James Milner. The veteran performer proved that he still has what it takes to compete at the top level.
Milner’s versatile performance summed him up. He is capable of doing a good job wherever Jurgen Klopp tells him to play. And that is a rare quality in a footballer these days.
The 33-year-old started the game in central midfield. He impressed in the first half as Liverpool went into the break 1-0 up but lamenting some missed chances.
But at half-time, there was a change in tactic for Milner. With Andrew Robertson off injured, Milner had to fill in at left-back.
This challenge cannot be underestimated. Not only was Milner expected to contribute to Liverpool’s attacks but also to ensure Barcelona did not score on the counter-attack.
That is easier said than done with the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in Barcelona’s team. But Milner balanced his duties perfectly.
The ex-England international’s teamwork and work rate cannot be questioned. And while he is still able to perform at the top level, Liverpool must keep him.
Although his contract expires in the summer, a new short-term deal should be offered. Even if Milner is just a squad player, he is always a useful versatile option to have and he will always give 100 per cent to the cause.