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SIF James Milner: an all-round gem

With more total stats than Pogba, Vidal or Nainggolan, this could be the all-round beast you are missing.

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

One of the games hidden gems is SIF “boring” James Milner. Often overlooked because players consider 72 pace to be too low for a full-back, he has incredible stats across the board. From fantastic shooting stats (including 87 longshots), ridiculous passing stats (such as 92 crossing and 91 short passing), to solid defending stats (80+ interceptions and tackling), he can play anywhere on the field. I start him at LB in my squad, thus giving him 10 chemistry, and then often switch him into a midfield role, where his all-round ability really shines through.

Games: 10

Goals: 6

Assists: 8

Chemistry Style: Shadow

Stats (from FUTHEAD):

SIF Milner IG Stats
FUTHEAD

Stats (with Shadow):

SIF Milner IG Stats w/ Shadow
FUTHEAD

I start him at LB in my 433(3) squad.

My initial squad set-up
FUTHEAD

At Kickoff, I switch the formation to 41212(2), but leave Milner at the LB position. At around 20/30 minutes, I take off Mauricio/Witsel, put Milner at CM, and then sub in SBC Jensen/Kurzawa at LB - the squad looks like this:

The team in-game
FUTHEAD

Now, let’s get into James Milner’s stats.

Pace: 8/10

Not gonna lie, he's a little slow - even with the Shadow chemistry style, he feels like he has ~80 pace. If you're the sort of player who relies on the pace of your fullbacks to defend, you'll have a tough time using him. But, over the course of the 10 games, I learned how best to use him. I don't set him to set back while attacking - instead, I let him drift forward. His interceptions are so good that he cuts out any through ball played on the wing, and his defensive stats are good enough to allow him to stop any attacker who comes near him. If a winger gets past him, I draw Witsel/Bailly towards the player to slow them down, and then Milner comes in with the game-saving tackle. The same is true in the midfield - he can keep up with most players, but instead of relying on his pace, I use his incredible physical and defensive stats to close down opportunities.

All that being said, he is still pretty fast - he can get away from most players, and his 99 stamina means he can run until the last minute of the game. If he gets caught out of position, he will bomb back into the defense. If we get an attack, he will rush forward into a goal scoring position. His pace is adequate, and if you know how to use him, it is a valuable asset to the card.

Shooting: 10/10

Fantastic. He scored two goal from inside the box (one a difficult finish from a tight angle), one free kick, and three long shots. His long shots are fantastic - he can hit them with both feet. Most of his shots are on target, and they usually force a corner because of his shot power. His finishing seems pretty good - he only got into the box three or four times, and scored two goals. His free kicks are pretty good too - he scored one from 30 yards.

Passing: 10/10

Perfection - possibly the best passer I have used this year. He feels as good as SIF Eriksen and Luka Modric in this stat. Crossing is inch perfect - I whipped in at least five perfect crosses in his 10 games, and Ronaldo tucked away two of them. His corners are outrageous - I got four assists from his corners (all headers/bicycle kicks by Ronaldo). His last two assists came from wonderful, threaded through-balls that split open the opposition defense. His short and long passing are stunning - he can control the midfield by himself if needed, and make any pass he needs to.

Dribbling: 10/10

Never loses the ball. He has fantastic ball-control and dribbling, allowing him to dribble his way past most opponents. 92 reactions means he can recover instantly after a tackle or a foul, and is the first one back on the ball. I honestly felt like I could take on the whole team with him.

Defending: 10/10

His defending style is unique. Instead of just performing a crunching tackle, or bullying someone off the ball (he can do both), he sort of eases players off the ball. He almost walks up to them, pushes them a little bit, and walks away with the ball. He also has an incredible knack for interceptions - he will pop out of nowhere, intercepting an opposition pass, and starting a counter attack. With the shadow chemistry style, his defending is incredible - he gave away almost no fouls in the games I used him, and yet made 5-10 tackles a game.

Physical: 10/10

He's strong, aggressive, and surprisingly decent in the air. Through in 99 stamina, and you have a man who can sprint until the 90th minute of every game. He is everywhere on the field, driving every attack in my team, and leading every defense. He can cover every blade of grass on that field without breaking a sweat. Absolutely unreal.

Summary:

Overall, this is one of the best cards I have used. His pace isn't a problem for me, and his other stats more than make up for it. He is a stunningly good LB, and an even better midfielder. He is fast, strong, technically gifted, and an absolutely workhorse, and will dominate in every game he plays. He is as powerful and effective as Nainggolan and Vidal, with the creativity and attacking threat of Pogba. For < 50K, you are getting someone who can hold his own against the best midfields on the game, including legends.