Man City face fight to keep Milner from Arsenal and Liverpool

Midfielder free agent in summer and considering move despite €222,000 a week offer

Manchester City are fighting Arsenal and Liverpool to keep James Milner who is seriously considering a move to either the north London or the Merseyside club. City believe an offer of a new contract worth up to £160,000 a week and Milner's increased game time this season is evidence of how much the 29-year-old is wanted.

Milner, who becomes a free agent in the close season, was offered a new deal last summer. City hoped he would agree then to sign the terms which are spread over four years, with the club also successfully negotiating to extend the contracts of Vincent Kompany, Sergio Agüero and Edin Dzeko.

Milner, though, wanted to wait and see how much he would feature for the manager, Manuel Pellegrini, this season, with the player conscious he is in his peak years and that the next contract agreed will be the most significant of his career.

While Roma also retain an interest in Milner he is not thought to favour a move abroad and though still undecided, City are fearful that the midfielder may decide to join Arsenal or Liverpool rather than remain with the team he joined from Aston Villa in August 2010 for £26m, when Roberto Mancini signed him.


City are confident, though, that as well as the generous offer made to Milner, the salary starts at £130,000 a week and is incentivised to rise to £165,000 – terms which neither Liverpool nor Arsenal are likely to match – he has been offered everything else requested with regard to on-field demands.

Milner will end the season having been given more game time than last year, despite that being a campaign in which City played more football due to the team winning the League Cup and reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. This season Milner has played for 2,634 minutes compared to the 2,343 of last year, with one more match of the present season to go, Sunday’s game against Southampton.

Milner has made 27 starts in all competitions, moreover, compared to the 21 of the previous campaign. There have also been 17 substitute appearances, again a better number than the 23 made during the 2013-14 season.

Milner also hoped to be given more opportunities in major matches and once more, the evidence of this year shows that Pellegrini has done so and that he trusts the England international as a big-game player.Having been given only three starts in City’s eight Champions League matches last term, this season he has made six from the club’s eight outings.

Milner also began all six matches against the Champions League-chasing clubs, doing so home and away against Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. Last year he was not in the starting XI for any of the matches against the three sides that finished below City in the Premier League.

Although he would like to play in central midfield and his opportunities have proved limited there this season, Pellegrini has continually praised Milner in public. In March the manager told the Guardian: “Milner’s a phenomenon, a guy with big balls and a heart this big. Intelligent, great mentality, one of those players that when you leave him out you’re left with this feeling of injustice – it hurts because he should always play but sometimes you need a technical player with other characteristics.

“I hope he stays. If he doesn’t it will be because there’s an important offer. I’m Milner’s No1 fan. Find me a more complete English player. There are players who are better technically, yes. Quicker players, yes. Players who head better, yes. But show me one who does all the things Milner does well. There isn’t one.”

This esteem is reflected throughout the club and Pellegrini remains determined to keep Milner, though the length of time he has taken to deliberate over his future has given rise to greater fears that he could be about to leave.

(Guardian service)