Liverpool hope to agree the free transfer of James Milner this week with the England international poised to reject Champions League football with Manchester City or Arsenal in favour of a prominent role at Anfield.
Milner is one of the items on Liverpool’s agenda for a week that will shape their summer strategy. Tom Werner, the club’s chairman, and Mike Gordon, the president of Fenway Sports Group, are due on Merseyside on Tuesday to conduct an end-of-season review that will have major implications for Brendan Rodgers’ position.
Milner is a key target for Liverpool as they prepare to rebuild their midfield without Steven Gerrard and the club are confident of reaching a swift agreement with the player and his advisers despite failing to qualify for the Champions League. The 29-year-old is a free agent on 1 July having resisted City’s offer of a four-year contract worth up to £165,000-a-week since last summer.
Arsenal and Roma are also interested in Milner, who cost City £26m when he joined from Aston Villa in 2010 and last season made more starts in the Premier League, including against the leading sides, plus in the Champions League than in 2013-14.
However, he did not secure the regular central midfield role he wanted under Manuel Pellegrini and Liverpool hope that prospect at Anfield, and the fact he can remain in the north-west, has swayed him towards Merseyside.
FSG’s review into an underwhelming campaign will address his future as manager. Although, FSG have indicated that Rodgers retains their backing since the final day drubbing at the Britannia Stadium but want to hear his plans for a vast improvement next season and willingness to work within their model before moving into a fourth campaign with the Northern Irishman in charge.
Pressure grew on the Liverpool manager during a miserable end to last season when his team lost the FA Cup semi-final to Villa and faded from Champions League contention as a consequence of only two wins from the last nine league matches. Both Jürgen Klopp and Rafael Benítez have been touted as replacements for Rodgers this summer but the German coach has confirmed his intention to take a sabbatical following the end of his seven year reign at Borussia Dortmund while the former Liverpool manager is expected to be unveiled as Real Madrid’s head coach on Wednesday.