Most Leeds United supporters would surely love to see James Milner return to the club at some point between now and the end of his career.
The 34-year-old Liverpool man isn’t just a wonderfully versatile talent and a model professional, he is also a player who has won it all at club level, including a Champions League with the Reds just last season.
And having left Elland Road as a teenager some 16 years ago, it would be a fitting end to truly great career if he were to pull on the famous white jersey again before he hung up his boots for good.
The player himself has previously expressed his regret at not playing for his boyhood club longer than he did before moving to Newcastle United back in 2004, and a potential return has even been talked up by The Athletic journalist Phil Hay.
Writing during a Q&A for the outlet on Thursday, the reporter said: “You’d love to think that he might return at some point.
“And he’d be perfect for Leeds in certain respects.
“He’s under contract, though, and his wage will be hefty. Klopp continues to make good use of him. So plenty of obstacles.”
And there’s no denying that Milner would be a real asset for the Whites, even as he approaches the twilight of his career.
So far this season he has averaged a pass completion rate that is 1.8% better than Kalvin Phillips’, a long pass accuracy rate that is 4.2% better, a dribble success rate that is 0.7% higher, and a total action success rate that is 3.4% better, as per Wyscout.
And a detailed look at one of his key performances this term shows just how much he still has to offer.
In Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Leicester City back in November, Milner assisted one before scoring a last minute penalty to wrap up all three points for his side.
And the passage of play that led to his assist was really quite special.
With the ball deep in Liverpool’s half, as pictured above, the veteran midfielder can be seen urging his teammate into giving him the ball.
His experience affords him the confidence to not only dictate play, but also to take on possession in tighter areas knowing that he has the composure to get out of them.
And so it proves here.
As soon as Milner is on the ball he is harried and hassled by a Leicester player, but keeps his head, takes a touch, and shapes to pass.
It’s difficult to do justice to the vision that it takes for Milner to pick out the ball that he ends up playing, let alone the skill it takes to execute it.
Using his left boot, he manages to curve his delivery around three Leicester defenders – the one closing him down, another one further up the touchline, and then the final man – cutting each one out of the game with ease and serving up an inch perfect ball to the onrushing Sadio Mane.
It’s a truly astounding pass, and one that only a handful of players could even consider pulling off.
To do all of that, and then to have the nerve and self-assurance to step up and send Kasper Schmeichel the wrong way with the last kick of the game from the penalty spot, shows just how much of a true professional Milner is.
Creativity, diligence, leadership – he has it all in abundance, even as most players would be winding down their careers.
Of course, Hay is right, there are numerous obstacles to overcome if he is to ever return to Elland Road, not least his contract at Anfield that runs until 2022, but if we do manage to bring him home at some point in the future, you can bet that it would indeed be “perfect”.
In other Leeds United news, Illan Meslier shares behind-the-scenes clip as Leeds United continue socially-distanced training.