James Milner is widely expected to sign for Liverpool when his Manchester City contract comes to an end this summer, spurning interest from Arsenal.
A desire not to unsettle his young family is understood to have played its part in Milner’s decision, although its thought a desire to play in his preferred central midfield role is the England international’s chief footballing motivation.
Turning down a move to the capital will also mean turning his back on Champions League football for at least one season.
However, if playing in the engine room on a regular basis is Milner’s priority then he has certainly made the correct decision in aligning himself with the Merseysiders.
Whether in an attacking or withdrawn central-midfield role the Gunners’ squad is densely stocked with talent in the City star’s preferred positions.
Francis Coquelin automatically takes up one place in Arsene Wenger’s preferred 4-1-4-1 or 4-2-3-1 formations, leaving Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil as potential opponents for the central berths.
While Milner is more than capable of matching any of the quintet for practical Premier League usefulness, joining them in the joust for, at most, two positions on a weekly basis will leave him no better off than he is at the Etihad.
At Anfield there is a similar glut of number ten-style ‘midfielders’, with the likes of Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho all vying for the slot.
Yet further back there is a good deal less competition, with Jordan Henderson the sole deeper-lying operator who can be assured of a start when fit and well.
Lucas Leiva seems to be undervalued by Brendan Rodgers, while Joe Allen is a far less well-rounded player than Milner, offering little in attack, and Emre Can is one of the club’s best defenders at present.
Milner’s laudable tactical discipline makes him an ideal midfielder to operate alongside rampaging full-backs like Alberto Moreno too.
Liverpool are 11/10 to sign off their Premier League campaign with a victory over Stoke at the Britannia Stadium.