ANALYSIS | By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Arsenal registered their interest in signing James Milner when it was made clear to them that the player wants to leave Manchester City when his contract expires this month.
But the versatile midfielder, who has reached an agreement to join Liverpool, was never regarded as a priority signing by Arsene Wenger.
Why? Football Insider sources understand the Frenchman has bigger fish to fry this summer.
Wenger is an admirer of Milner’s technical qualities, versatility and professionalism but he is viewed by the Arsenal manager as an outstanding squad player rather than the final piece of the jigsaw for a team with ambitions to win next season’s Premier League title.
Discussions took place between Arsenal and Milner’s representatives but Wenger refused to offer the 29-year-old the guarantees about first-team football that he was seeking. It is understood that Liverpool have told the player he can expected to be a regular starter at Anfield next season.
Wenger wants to make a major midfield signing this summer, a player who can anchor the midfield and dominate the battles in the key matches.
That role has been filled by the promising Francis Coquelin in the second half of a season which ended with a third-placed league finish and second consecutive FA Cup crown for the Gunners.
Wenger has high hopes for the 24-year-old Frenchman but he is wary of placing too much pressure on his countryman’s shoulders and is in the market for a top-class central midfielder this summer.
The Gunners have been tracking Morgan Schneiderlin for two years but Manchester United are now favourites to capture the 25-year-old after opening talks with Southampton about a summer deal.
Wenger could have to look elsewhere for the midfield driving force he is seeking.