Saints must make City’s cut-price utility man a January buy

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Turkey is an undervalued meat in today’s dietary hierarchy. Full of nutritional value, Christmas’ favourite food is often derided for being too dry and perennially overlooked for the other white meat derived from a winged farm animal.

James Milner is Manchester City’s turkey. A reliably consistent performer in many positions, the Leeds native is rarely cast in the glamorous light reserved for his global-superstar teammates because he isn’t as spectacular.

In fact, so undervalued is the Citizens midfielder that the defending Premier League champions are considering selling him in January for around £5m, a fee which would be £10m short of his valuation.

Milner’s expiring contract is the reason he is available at a knockdown price, with City looking to cash in on the 28-year-old now rather than lose him for free at the end of the season.

A gaggle of Premier League clubs are likely to register an interest in Milner come the winter transfer window, but it’s Southampton who should do everything in their powers to recruit the recent England half-centurion.

Ronald Koeman’s early life as Saints boss has gone better than expected after overseeing a summer exodus, going undefeated in the Premier League since an opening-day defeat to Liverpool.

A 4-3-3 formation is his preferred playing system, which Milner would slot seamlessly into either as an upgrade on the energetic midfield role currently occupied by Steven Davis, or in one of the wide positions.

Having spent much of his time at City as a squad player, Milner is unlikely to drop a few rungs on the top-flight ladder for a similar role and it seems replacing Davis in the Saints’ starting XI would be his best chance at regular minutes on the south coast.

Either way, his acquisition would seriously enhance a squad that is currently rated at 12/1 for a top-six finish with Ladbrokes, while perhaps thrusting Milner into a limelight he hasn’t seen since playing for Aston Villa four years ago.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.