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Liverpool confident of James Milner deal as free agent in summer - sources

Liverpool are increasingly confident they will sign James Milner in the summer, sources told ESPN FC.

The England international midfielder will be available on a free transfer if he does not agree a new contract with Manchester City.

The Premier League champions have been in talks with the 29-year-old for some time and have offered him a new deal, while manager Manuel Pellegrini has twice said he expected Milner to commit his future to City within a few days.

No matter the circumstances, Manchester City's James Milner always seems willing to do the dirty work.
James Milner's versatility has attracted the attention of Brendan Rodgers.

However the former Aston Villa player has yet to finalise terms and Liverpool believe the offer of regular first-team football could sway Milner to leave the Etihad Stadium for Anfield.

The Merseyside club are looking to replace captain Steven Gerrard, who has announced he is departing in the summer to join LA Galaxy.

Milner has also been linked with Arsenal, Inter Milan and Napoli and is able to sign a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club in January.

He joined City for 26 million pounds from Aston Villa in 2010 but refused to enter into contract talks last summer, after a season when he only began 11 league games.

Milner has already equalled that total this year and has appeared 30 times in all competitions, but he has had more opportunities in a campaign when David Silva, Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero have all spent lengthy spells on the sidelines.

Another part of Liverpool's plans for next season is to use Glen Johnson as a right-sided central defender. The right-back is another player whose contract expires this summer and, as one of Liverpool's biggest earners, he had been expected to leave.

But manager Brendan Rodgers has said he hopes to keep the 30-year-old, who returned from injury in Saturday's draw with Bolton.

Johnson played on the right of a back three in Rodgers' new-look 3-4-2-1 formation and, if he keeps the system, it is a role the former Chelsea player is expected to occupy next season.

Midfielder Emre Can has been playing as a central defender, usually on the right, since he came on at half-time in the Boxing Day win at Burnley.

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