JAMIE REDKNAPP: I can see why Aston Villa are fighting to keep Manchester City target James Milner

18 May 2010 07:02
James Milner burst on to the scene, aged 16 years and 309 days, but never looked like a boy in a man's game.

Like Wayne Rooney, he was advanced in his development. When I first played against him, he was a Leeds player, a bright and lively wide man; quick across the ground, athletic, strong.

It's fascinating, but even though some Barclays Premier League heavyweights are knocking at his door, I'm not sure if we know his best position.

Is Milner worth £24m? Have your say below. Driving force: Milner has impressed City with his powerful midfield running for Villa

It seems that City would like to use him as a midfield runner - a powerhouse whose fitness will see him cover the whole pitch and bring more energy to their team. He can certainly run and, like Carlos Tevez, is not afraid of hard work.

I can see why City might want to sign him from Aston Villa and what he brings to their team. He can fill a variety of positions but I'm not sure where he is most effective, or where he will eventually settle.

The cost of buying Milner is expensive, but you sign at least three players for the price of one. He can play wide and crosses with accuracy and pace, an inswinger or an outswinger. This always seemed his natural position. 

He can play off the front, a role he will grow into with experience,like a Frank Lampard, or a Steven Gerrard, as a second striker, makingfull use of his range of powerful shooting and his movement. He canplay in central midfield, a new position for him this season and onethat has caught the eye, although I am unconvinced it is his best role.

City must like what they have seen this season, but if youlook at his performances in the big games, teams have set about him inthat midfield role in a flat four, where he has been asked to defendand protect his back line.

Villa lost 7-1 at Chelsea andArsenal's Cesc Fabregas gave him a bit of a chasing at the Emirates.They are the games when you have to judge his merits as a top centralmidfielder. He can play there, I'm just not sure it is where you getthe best out of him consistently.

You can see watching Milner that he has a passion for the game. Ihear he trains like a demon and will stay behind and work hard atimproving. That can set an example to others in the team. He is superfit and with his team ethic transmitting to others, he will be worthhis weight in gold.

Worth £24million? Well, he is English andhe is only 24. He will score more goals as he learns that side of hisgame and he is a good, honest player. He is a box-to-box lionheartedmidfielder, with a creative vision.

He keeps his head and controls his emotions and is a top modern footballer, who will improve with better players.

Forinstance, he can play a cameo role in the World Cup for England, wherehe is sure to come on from the bench and might yet force his way intothe team. He seems to be ahead of Joe Cole in the pecking order as acreative player.

I can imagine Villa wanting to keep him, butsometimes an offer like this can be too good to refuse. He hasdeveloped into a better player under Martin O'Neill because £12m lookeda lot of money when he signed from Newcastle two years ago.

Ican see why big clubs want him and the versatility he has to offer. Onequestion remains: How much would Paul Scholes have been worth if he was10 years younger? I'm estimating upwards of £30m . at least.

 Manchester City nip in quick for £24m Milner as Chelsea join the racePremier League review of the season: Club by-club guide to your side's campaignThe good, the bad and the ugly - my review of the seasonASTON VILLA FC

Source: Daily_Mail