MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Wednesday, October 2, 2013: Manchester City's James Milner in action against Bayern Munich's Rafinha during the UEFA Champions League Group D match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

James Milner and the Free Agent 5-a-Side Team Liverpool Should Target

A host of top European players are entering the last six months of their contracts this January, and Jack Lusby includes James Milner on a list of five that Liverpool should target.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Wednesday, October 2, 2013: Manchester City's James Milner in action against Bayern Munich's Rafinha during the UEFA Champions League Group D match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With the new year comes the January transfer window, but moving into 2015 also introduces another market for depleted sides: the free agent market.

With six months to go on their contract, players are permitted to speak to foreign clubs and officially agree a Bosman transfer for the next season and beyond.

Having spent big in the summer, it can be suggested that manager Brendan Rodgers didn’t fully address the areas that needed strengthening, and furthermore this may suggest that Liverpool have a tight budget this January.

Still, requiring a strong spine, a relatively inexpensive solution for the future can be approaching soon-to-be free agents.

Here, we’ve gone for a balanced selection worthy of gracing any hallowed five-a-side turf, and more than capable of solidifying Rodgers’ ambitions and providing Liverpool’s spine for years to come.

First up, as is clearly paramount for the Reds this season, is a goalkeeper.


Loris Karius (FSV Mainz 05)

Simon Mignolet and Brad Jones are clearly far from up to scratch at Liverpool, and Rodgers needs to find a new No. 1 goalkeeper as soon as possible.

Mainz goalkeeper Loris Karius is available on a free transfer in the summer, and the Reds can begin contract talks immediately, with the 21-year-old German looking likely to leave the Bundesliga club on the expiry of his current deal.

A tall, bulky shot-stopper, Karius was touted as a replacement for the departing Pepe Reina last year by Bleacher Report’s Allan Jiang, describing him as “a physically imposing goalkeeper with world-class potential.”

Karius has made 17 Bundesliga appearances this season, conceding 25 goals.

Jiang continues by outlining him as a Manuel Neuer-esque sweeper-keeper: “[Karius] routinely demonstrates his agility by closing down space, which pressurises opposing players into rushed shots.”

Although with Karius just 21, Liverpool may be wise to also seek a more experienced option, but the Mainz hotshot could be an astute move by Rodgers in January.

Other options: Sergio Romero, Jefferson, Beto


Fabian Schar (FC Basel)

With the full-back areas covered for the foreseeable future by the likes of Alberto Moreno, Javier Manquillo, Jon Flanagan and Andre Wisdom, Rodgers would be wise to turn to a new centre-back in the free agent market.

That could come in the form of one of this season’s Champions League opponents: FC Basel man Fabian Schar.

An impressive member of Basel’s back line for years now, despite his youthful 23 years, Schar has made 58 appearances for the Swiss champions.

This season that has included 15 Super League games, and a further six appearances so far in the Champions League; Basel, of course, advanced at Liverpool’s expense.

With this experience, and great scope for potential, a move to Anfield could see Schar develop his swift, aggressive style and become a long-term fixture in Rodgers’ currently shaky defence.

Furthermore, as a natural right-footer Schar would be able to partner Mamadou Sakho, who must be built around as Liverpool advance.

Other options: Andrea Ranocchia, Ron Vlaar, Winston Reid


Sami Khedira (Real Madrid)

This suggestion may be stepping into the realms of fantasy but, with Steven Gerrard announcing a summer move to LA Galaxy this month, Liverpool must step up their attempts to replace the long-serving captain: A free agent in the summer, Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira fits the bill.

The 27-year-old has seen his options increasingly limited at the Bernabeu, compounded by Madrid’s acquisition of compatriot Toni Kroos this summer.

This season Khedira has made just five appearances in La Liga, all as a substitute, amounting to a total of just 66 minutes; although the midfielder has been battling injury concerns, this is a paltry amount for such a phenomenal talent.

An exceptional ball-winner, a graceful ball-player and a devastating force on the move, Khedira is arguably the complete midfielder.

His defensive tendencies would suit Rodgers’ side mostly, as beyond Lucas Leiva the squad lacks an established anchor.

A midfield trio of Khedira, Emre Can and Jordan Henderson should be a mouth-watering prospect for Liverpool fans.

Other options: Nigel de Jong, Stephane Mbia, Mathieu Flamini


James Milner (Manchester City)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 14, 2013: Manchester City's James Milner in action against Arsenal during the Premiership match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Onto a player Liverpool have been consistently linked with this season—and in seasons previous—Manchester City midfielder James Milner would bolster Rodgers’ squad immensely.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini recently claimed “[there is] no news. I hope we will find an arrangement,” underlining his desire to hold on to Milner.

As the manager continued “I think that I have said already what I think about James Milner. He is very useful. He always plays with 100 per cent commitment and intensity,” this highlights just why Rodgers should be targeting the 29-year-old.

Milner versatility

Milner’s main strength is his versatility, and within this a remarkable consistency.

Having started in five different positions already this season, Milner has also replaced players in various other positions; the only roles Milner hasn’t played are as goalkeeper and centre-back.

Within this, Milner is a great outlet both in terms of defence and attack, and is an exceptional passer of the ball.
If Liverpool can offer Milner a more regular central role, they stand a chance of poaching the City man.

Other options: Fabian Delph, Mark Noble, Dirk Kuyt


Luiz Adriano (Shakhtar Donetsk)

Injury to Daniel Sturridge, limited options for Mario Balotelli and the ineffective displays of Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini underline why Liverpool need to sign another centre-forward in the future.

It may be another risk, but a move for Shakhtar Donetsk strike Luiz Adriano could be a rewarding move for Rodgers.
In the Ukrainian Premier League this season, Adriano has scored four goals in 13 games.

Adriano’s heroics have mainly come in the Champions League, with five appearances heralding an amazing nine goals.

What is most appealing is Adriano’s playing style, with searing pace, great movement and a poachers’ instinct hallmarking his game.

At 27 years old Adriano would be a ready-made option for Rodgers, and a great deputy for Sturridge as well as a player who would work well in tandem with Liverpool strike.

Other options: Andre-Pierre Gignac, Danny Ings, Sebastian Giovinco


Would these five free signings be right for Liverpool? Let us know in the comments below.