In a completely unexpected twist, James Milner finds himself holding all the aces at Manchester City.
Owing to contingencies such as financial fair play and home-grown player stipulations, the Leeds native now finds himself as valuable to the Citizens as Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Vincent Kompany.
Intent on capitalising on this newfound leverage, Milner has warned his employers that he will leave the club when his contract expires next summer unless he receives ample playing time this term.
“I have a year left and have spoken to the club. I love it here and would love to stay at Manchester City but first and foremost I am a footballer and want to play football.”
Like a seasoned Mafioso, speaking to the bastion of facts and accuracy known as the Daily Star, the implied threat lurking unsaid below Milner’s words is clear.
And the odds gurus at bwin.com believe he’ll make good on his promises, offering a price of 1/2 that he departs the Etihad before 02/09/14, with 7/5 saying he’ll extend his stay with the champions.
The take-on-all-comers performance he put in during the blue moonies’ 1-1 draw with Chelsea, however, suggests he warrants more minutes on the pitch.
Manuel Pellegrini giving him the nod over the technically sounder Samir Nasri for a game of such magnitude arched plenty of eyebrows, but the sleeves-rolled-up showing he served up was key in negating the Blues’ threat on the counter-attack.
The former Aston Villa all-rounder proved he’s got the attacking ability to cause even the best defences problems too, assisting Frank Lampard’s equaliser as well as three further key passes in the game.
Stationed on the opposite flank, Silva injects an obvious beauty into the Citizens’ game with his deft touches and clever through balls, but Milner’s more rugged, direct style provides a necessary compliment that Pellegrini should make more of.
Nasri is of an almost identical mould to his Spanish teammate, more inclined to cut inside from the wings than get beyond a full-back.
Variation going forward and diligence in defence should grant Milner more game time this term, resulting in him remaining at the Etihad in the long-term.