An XI of players left out of James Milner’s best XI he played with

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Mohamed Salah celebrates with Liverpool team-mate James Milner. Vicarage Road, October 2021.

Having played for Newcastle, Leeds, Aston Villa, Manchester City, Liverpool and England during his career, James Milner has unsurprisingly had some incredible team-mates.

During an interview with FourFourTwo, Milner named an incredible best Xl of his team-mates consisting of Alisson; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Jonathan Woodgate, Ashley Cole; Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, David Silva, Roberto Firmino, Alan Shearer and Sergio Aguero.

This got us thinking of the best XI of players he excluded. We present them to you in a 4-3-3 formation.

GK: Joe Hart

Admittedly, Hart’s stock has fallen dramatically in recent seasons but we shouldn’t forget how good he was at his peak.

The England international made over 300 appearances for Manchester City, winning two Premier League titles and also receiving four Golden Glove awards.

Milner watched from the substitutes bench as the goalkeeper produced that iconic performance against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League group stage in October 2012.

READ: A forensic analysis of the night Joe Hart faced down Dortmund on his own

RB: Pablo Zabaleta

Milner’s line-up contains current Liverpool team-mate Trent Alexander Arnold, who has established himself as one of the best right-backs in the world.

But that means we’re still able to pick Pablo Zabaleta, who played alongside Milner for Manchester City.

The former Argentina international rarely put a foot wrong throughout his City career and his willingness to put his body on the line made him a real fan favourite.

CB: Vincent Kompany

Another Manchester City legend, Kompany just about edged out Dedryck Boyata and Ozan Kabak to take a coveted spot in our line-up.

“Vinny – unbelievable player,” Milner told Sky Sports in 2020. “How he went about his business, he struggled with injuries but the amount of injuries you saw him play through as well which nobody would have ever known, was incredible.

“He would put his head on the line. An unbelievable leader, a great captain with so many great qualities on that side, and rightly so, one of the greatest defenders to play in the Premier League.”

But Kompany still didn’t make it into Milner’s XI. We’re guessing he just hasn’t forgiven the defender for that crucial goal against Leicester City in May 2019.

CB: Rio Ferdinand

During his England career, Milner was fortunate enough to play with both Ferdinand and John Terry, who are regarded as two of the greatest defenders of all time.

We decided to flip a coin to chose between the two centre-backs and Ferdinand won.

LB: Andy Robertson

After Milner selected Ashley Cole as his left-back, it made sense to include the other half of the Alexander-Arnold and Robertson full-back pairing in our line-up here.

The Scotland international is arguably the best left-back in the world at the time of writing and Leighton Baines is the only defender to set up more Premier League goals than him.

He also loves winding up his opponents and this team needs a bit of shithousery.

Neymar of PSG and Liverpool's Andrew Robertson clash heads

READ: Nine times Andy Robertson was a superb sh*thouse: Messi, Suarez…

CM: Gareth Barry

There were a host of candidates for the defensive midfield role; Fernandinho, Fabinho, Lucas Leiva, Nigel de Jong and Michael Carrick to name just a few.

But we couldn’t ignore the merits of Gareth Barry, who played alongside Milner for Aston Villa, Manchester City and England.

Alongside Milner, the midfielder is one of the most underrated players in Premier League history, and he is the perfect man to shield the defence in this team.

“With Gareth, I played with him at Aston Villa and Man City and he is a top, top player and week in and week out you can rely on him,” Milner said in 2011. “He wins the ball, is fantastic on the ball, has great composure.

“A lot of people don’t realise the job he does both for England and City until maybe he misses a game, if he ever misses one through injury which is rare.

“He has got a great engine and plays a lot of games as well and I don’t think you realise what he gives to the team until he is not there.”

CM: Yaya Toure

Toure joined City alongside Milner in the summer of 2010 and quickly established himself as one of the best midfielders in Europe.

His winner in the 2011 FA Cup final helped City to their first trophy for 35 years and it was also the first major honour of Milner’s career.

The former Ivory Coast international later produced one of the greatest individual seasons from any Premier League midfielder, registering 20 goals and 13 assists as City won the title in 2013-14.

CM: Philippe Coutinho

Milner made his Liverpool debut against Stoke City in August 2015 and watched on as Coutinho scored a stunning winner in the 86th minute.

“I obviously saw him do it a few times last year – so to do it when he was on my team was nicer!” Milner told LFCTV after the victory.

The Brazil international went from strength to strength under Jurgen Klopp and continued to produce moments of magic, including that brilliant chip against Manchester United in 2016.

His impressive performances at Anfield eventually resulted in a £142million move to Barcelona in January 2018.

RW: Mohamed Salah

Salah must have stolen Milner’s parking spot at Liverpool’s training ground because we can’t work out why he wasn’t named in his XI.

The Egpyt international has been a revelation at Liverpool since signing from Roma in 2017, scoring 152 goals in his first 235 appearances for the club.

It’s also fair to say that Milner probably wouldn’t have that Champions League winners medal without Salah, who scored the opener in the 2019 final.

ST: Wayne Rooney

After Milner picked the Premier League’s greatest goalscorer of all time for the striker position, we selected the player that is second on that list.

Rooney and Milner often played for rival teams at club level but they did make 37 appearances together at international level.

The striker produced some iconic moments in an England shirt and became their all-time leading goalscorer.

LW: Sadio Mane

Alongside Salah, Mane has also played an integral role in Liverpool’s stunning revival in recent years.

The winger has scored over 100 goals for the club in all competitions, helping the Reds win the Premier League, Champions League, Super Cup, Club World Cup and League Cup.

After including a shithouse like Robertson, we then needed to balance things out and Mane is undoubtedly one of the nicest men in football.


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