James Milner’s enduring excellence means Liverpool’s vice-captain remains an invaluable resource for Jürgen Klopp.
The upcoming campaign represents the fifth of Milner’s Anfield career and the No.7, now 33 years old, has looked as fit as ever in the early weeks of pre-season.
The Reds’ friendly wins over Tranmere Rovers and Bradford City that preceded their tour of the United States both featured impressive 45-minute run-outs from Milner, who netted twice at Valley Parade last Sunday.
And Klopp has explained why the Champions League-winning midfielder’s influence is of vital importance to his squad, both on and off the pitch.
Inside Training | Behind the scenes in the USA
“There have not been many,” the boss told Liverpoolfc.com in Indiana, when asked if he has ever worked with a player of Milner’s ilk before.
“I was blessed to have a few players like this; Sebastian Kehl, for example, at Dortmund was a more experienced player in a very young team and was a leader in that team, like Millie is. And I think Millie improved his football a lot in the last two or three years as well.
“His attitude is outstanding. Millie is a sports guy, in each sport he is doing he is brilliant. Without Millie it wouldn’t have been possible. His kind of a little bit dirty dressing-room talks, I cannot do, these things you say in the dressing room that I am not allowed to say in public. That’s the last little kick and that’s nice.
“We have so many leaders in the team: Hendo of course, Millie of course, Gini, Virg, all these guys, they are in a different way all leaders. They know what to do and they will know it for a new season.
“Millie looks again in the pre-season like [he’s in] in his early 20s; but he isn’t, he knows that, and we try to respect that. But he is not only in the game not really stoppable, in training it’s the same. All good.”
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