• ‘Milly’s Mr Professional and loves what he’s doing,’ says Klopp
• Alisson ready to resume full training next week after injury
Paul Wilson – The Guardian
Joël Matip (left) and James Milner celebrate Liverpool’s victory at Chelsea with Trent Alexander-Arnold. Photograph: James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images
Liverpool are relaxed about James Milner’s contract situation, even though he is in the final year of his deal and could theoretically talk to other clubs from January.
The versatile midfielder will turn 34 in the new year, though as he proved with the opening goal in a much-altered side at MK Dons in midweek, he still has plenty to offer. “Milly is unbelievably important to us,” Jürgen Klopp said. “He’s Mr Professional, he’s very serious about what he does and he’s a role model for all the younger players at the club. It’s great that you can pick a side with five kids and six regulars for a cup tie and not have to worry because you have someone like Milly in the team. He’s still very ambitious, that’s his nature, and he has a few more years still left in the locker.”
Klopp says the club are talking to Milner about a contract extension, though there is nothing to report at the moment. “It’s only September, no one is getting nervous,” he said. “I don’t see the need to worry because he just loves what he’s doing. He’s fine with his career at this stage. When he started out he was the best young player of his age group. He grew up the hard way, playing for a number of different clubs, and now he is older he has become really calm. I think he likes it here and from the club’s point of view he is great to have around; he can play in five different positions.”
Milner arrived at Anfield on a free from Manchester City in the last few months of Brendan Rodgers’ reign and, given his service over the last four years, must count as one of the club’s shrewdest signings, though Klopp believes Joël Matip has also proved an excellent acquisition for negligible outlay. The centre-back, expected to return to the side at Sheffield United on Saturday, was also picked up on a free and has established himself this season as Virgil van Dijk’s regular partner.
“In a world of big transfer fees, signing a player that good for nothing is one of the best pieces of business we ever did,” Klopp said. “It doesn’t happen too often but Joël has always been an incredible talent. He was playing for Schalke at 18 and that’s not easy.”
Alisson is close to a return after missing most of the season with a calf injury. Klopp confirmed the goalkeeper was ready to resume full training from next week. “Having Adrián playing so well makes everything easier,” the manager said. “We don’t have to rush Alisson back and we wouldn’t want to anyway.” A reintroduction after the October international break seems likely, when Klopp will also be hoping several of his outfield players will return unscathed from far-flung fixtures.
“We just found out Brazil are playing Senegal in a friendly in Singapore,” he said. “There are now friendlies being played on the other side of the world and we have no influence on it. We are not the only ones, I know – the more international players you have the more you will be affected by this. You just get the message that this is happening and you have to deal with it.”