If James Milner leaves, City are losing more than just the most versatile player in the Premier League.
For months we have all been reading about the stalled contract negotiations between the Blues and James Milner. For some, a certain fear is starting to creep in. What do we do if he leaves?
Milner leaving creates a number of problems for the club. The most obvious being that the Champions would be losing arguable the most consistent and versatile players in the league. This, however, is just the tip of the iceberg.
If City’s number 7 decides to take his talents to Scouse Beach, or wherever else, it will leave the club with three less home grown players than it started this season with. James Milner, Frank Lampard, and presumably Scott Sinclair will all be out the door.
As we know all too well, there are certain roster requirements in regards to home grown players for the Premier League and Champions League. Should these three players leave, we would be left with only four members of the current squad that qualify as home grown. Dedryck Boyata, Gael Clichy, Joe Hart, and Richard Wright. This puts the club in a situation that it has never before been in. Add in the inflated prices of English players and the ever watching eyes of Platini and his friends at UEFA, and you can see how this summer could become vital for our club.
Before getting into what we can do, we need to lay down the rules. For the Premier League and Champions League, we must have a 25 man squad list (U-21s do not need to be registered), 8 of which must be classified as home grown. In order to be classified as home grown, a player must have to be English or to have trained at any English club(s) for at least 3 years between the ages of 15 and 21.
The easiest way to cover two of those spots is to retain two of our currently loaned out players, next season. I think that City should keep Marcos Lopes (currently at Lille) and Karim Rekik (currently at PSV) at the club next season. With Demichelis coming to the end of his career and our creative players often picking up injuries, these two players could fill in without missing a beat.
The next step is to pick up a quality veteran player, who is classified as home grown, and that can still do a job for the club. The first name that pops to mind is Aaron Lennon. The winger just joined Everton on loan from Spurs, and I believe still has a few tricks up his sleeve. Also, Lennon’s contract with Tottenham is up at the end of June. This means that City could potentially get the player on a free. How’s that for good business, Txiki and Ferran?
We now come to the most difficult acquisition. The final spot will require us to splash a bit of cash. I have narrowed my list down to four options that classify as home grown, and could provide quality for City for a number of years to come.
At the top of my list is Nathaniel Clyne. The right back from Southampton has showed flashes of brilliance over the past two seasons, and has been called into Roy Hodgson’s national team. Should he join City, he would be able to learn from the best in business in Pablo Zabaleta, and would eventually be able to take over the job once Zaba had lost a few steps. Fabian Delph of Aston Villa is next on the list. Delph provides the work rate of Milner in the middle of the park that we sometimes lack. Third would be James McCarthy of Everton is a great deep lying playmaker, and could grow into one of the best around at City. The Irishman has great vision and a great range of passing, and would be able to learn from some wonderful players in Manchester. Lastly, we have James Ward-Prowse. The young Southampton midfielder has really made a name for himself this season and looks to have all the tools to make him a very good Premier League and England midfielder.
As you can see, there are options out there. The issue is whether or not we can get our top targets without having to pay over the odds. If James Milner decides to move on, the effect on our summer plans will be extraordinary.