James Milner’s team talks might not be fit for public consumption but Jurgen Klopp values them as part of the Liverpool midfielder’s “outstanding” attitude and leadership.
Now 33, the experienced former England international is set to embark upon his fifth season with the Reds.
It will be his first as a Champions League winner and, with Klopp hesitant to upset the balance by adding new signings, the core of the side that exceeded expectations last term will remain unchanged.
That means the same level of responsibility for Premier League veteran Milner, a player the Reds boss trusts to tell home truths in close confines.
“His attitude is outstanding,” Klopp told Liverpool’s website. “Millie is a sports guy, in each sport he does he is brilliant. Without Millie it wouldn’t have been possible [to have the same level of success].
“His kind of a little bit dirty dressing-room talks I cannot do, these things you say in the dressing room that I am not allowed to say in public.
“That’s the last little kick and that’s nice.
“Millie looks again in pre-season like [he’s in] in his early 20s, but he isn’t. He knows that, and we try to respect that. But not only in the game is he [almost unstoppable], in training it’s the same.”
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 18, 2019
Milner’s professionalism provides the perfect example for youngsters like striker Rhian Brewster, who looks increasingly close to a breakthrough at Anfield.
The 19-year-old has stirred excitement with three goals in two pre-season games, but any first-team minutes over the coming months will be provided free of pressure and expectation.
“We think he is ready, to be honest, but we have to see when and how often and stuff like this,” Klopp said.
“He was injured for a long time. He is a fantastic footballer, we fought really hard to get him [from Chelsea] and then to keep him.
“Now he is here and I think he sees the chance, the chance is there and that’s very good.”
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