James Milner’s Liverpool contract has led to a lot of confusion among supporters and the media. Initially. Milner’s contract was said to expire this summer, according to the typically reliable website Transfermarkt.
The midfielder does have one more season on his current deal which we all know now will expire in 2020. Yet, the Reds don’t look to be working too quickly to reward the vice-captain with a fresh contract. That could be down to the club not focusing on re-signing Milner until the 2019-20 season kicks into gear next week.
Milner has been an incredible servant to the club and is proof of the Moneyball philosophy used by Liverpool. The Englishman arrived on a free transfer from Manchester City in 2015 to help solidify the team’s midfield. Not only has Milner been a reliable man in the engine room, but he has filled-in in defence when needed. Again, it shows the smart, Moneyball work that went into signing him. It was a proverbial two for the price of one deal.
Last season, Milner appeared in 45 matches in all competitions scoring seven goals and adding seven assists. His goal versus Arsenal in the Premier League was as important strike as the fixture ended 1-1 in a tight affair. But his goals throughout the term, especially from the spot, were major factors in Liverpool’s success.
Milner averaged a goal and/or assist every 405 minutes on the pitch. His Premier League expected goals number of 3.36 was exceeded with five goals during the season.
Despite being 34-years old when his current contract runs out next summer, Milner’s fitness will keep him playing top-flight football. In July, it was announced Liverpool are keen to extend his deal. Once the season begins, the club can turn their attention to re-signing him.
In a similar boat is central defender Joel Matip. The German-born defender solidified his place in the heart of Liverpool’s defence last term. Despite breaking his collarbone against Napoli when Koulidou Koulibaly barged into him in the dying seconds of Liverpool’s win at Anfield, Matip rebounded and became Virgil van Dijk’s undisputed defensive partner.
Although many rival fans won’t admit it, the duo was the best central defensive unit in European football last season. Alisson Becker’s 21 clean sheets in the league were partly down to the duo marshalling attackers in front of him. Add in Matip’s ability to move the ball forward and make runs from defence with the ball like a sweeper and his value sky-rocketed throughout last season.
What goes overlooked is Matip was another Moneyball signing Liverpool made. Like so many players that come through the ranks at Germany’s Schalke, Matip left on a free transfer and signed for Liverpool in 2016. He was valued at just over £16m at the time and is now worth nearly double that amount. Of course, with Harry Maguire moving for £85m this week, Matip’s price should be in the high £30m-range.
Matip’s contract, like Milner’s deal, will end in the summer of 2020. With him now having a Champions League trophy to his name, a host of teams will make a play for him in January, if available next summer.
Unfortunately for Matip, Liverpool have several young guns vying for his spot in the first team. Joe Gomez is expected to be the heir apparent to Matip’s position. But injuries could curtail him fully taking over the role. Sepp van den Berg arrived this summer and Ki-Jana Hoever looked very impressive in the preseason. There is also Dejan Lovren, who for me, is third or fourth choice at this point.
Interestingly, in a June article via the Express, Matip stated he has two years left on his contract despite reports of it being just one year. If that is the case, then Liverpool’s slowness to re-sign him can be understood. Like Milner, the club is most likely waiting until the end of the current transfer window before it rewards the big man with a new deal.
Last season saw the Reds wait until the autumn and winter before they began handing out new contracts.
Milner and Matip Salaries
In February 2019, it was revealed by This Is Anfield that Matip makes £70,000-per-week (£3.64m annually). It is an incredibly low figure for a player that is so important at the club. Like Transfermarkt, This Is Anfield also states his contract will end next summer.
Milner’s salary is far higher and with his age, it could be a figure the club wants to reduce. It could also be a figure Milner has difficulty getting anywhere else. The midfielder makes £120,000-a-week (£6.24m annually).
Milner and Matip showed just how important they were to Liverpool last season. Based on their performances, both could get new deals once the Premier League season kicks off on Friday against Norwich City.