Liverpool lack ‘top footballers’ and cannot be a ‘top club’ if ‘toddler’ Klopp plays Milner

Jason Soutar
Liverpool midfielder James Milner and Luka Modric compete for the ball

Journalist Henk Spaan has claimed that Liverpool cannot be a “top club” if Jurgen Klopp continues to play James Milner in midfield.

Milner, 37, started for the Reds as they crashed out of the Champions League earlier this week.

A 1-0 loss at Real Madrid in the second leg succumbed the Premier League club to a 6-2 aggregate defeat.

The match at the Bernabeu was only the third time Milner has started in the Champions League this term and his 11th start across all competitions.

The former England midfielder has been around forever and has been able to perform at a decent level up until the beginning of this season.

Milner has played in defence and midfield for Liverpool in 2022-23 and injuries throughout the squad have seen Klopp rely heavily on the Premier League stalwart.

It has been an extremely challenging campaign for everyone at Anfield with the Merseyside club now putting all of their eggs in one basket as they aim to finish inside a Champions League place in the Premier League.

Many players – like Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho – are performing at an unrecognisably poor level.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has probably been singled out for criticism more than anyone else in the Liverpool team, however.

Wednesday night’s defeat was another difficult evening for the England defender, who was dribbled past six times.

With multiple players struggling and Liverpool facing an uphill battle to finish inside the top four in the Premier League, Klopp’s long-term future has become uncertain.

One thing that is for certain is that Dutch journalist Henk Spaan is not a big fan of the current Reds squad – which only has one “top footballer”.

Spaan has brutally claimed that Liverpool cannot be a “top club” as long as Milner plays in midfield for them.

Furthermore, he called Klopp a “toddler” in comparison to “mature” Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelloti.

“Is Liverpool a top club? Can you call a team a top club with someone like Milner at the centre of midfield?” Spaan wrote Het Parool (via Sport Witness).

“Do Liverpool have top footballers? Mo Salah, alright. Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Van Dijk? Once they were top players. Liverpool can only be called a top club if you look at the budget.

“The level difference with Real Madrid was almost improbable. Benzema, Vinicius, Kroos, Modric, Valverde, Nacho and Camavinga would all be in the starting line-up at Liverpool.

“Klopp was a toddler compared to the mature Ancelotti, a coach doing his job with raised eyebrows watching the madness around him.”

Milner was not the only 37-year-old playing in midfield at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.

Luka Modric – who turns 38 in September – starred for Real Madrid as they cruised through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Reigning champions Madrid will face 2021 winners Chelsea in the last eight of the competition.

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