James Milner: Liverpool sign Man City's Mr Dependable
James Milner is experienced, durable, versatile... and boring.
Once the Premier League's youngest goalscorer, he burst onto the scene but hard work and diligence have provided the somewhat rare cocktail of success and a quiet career since.
A man for all seasons, a man managers want in the trenches with them, why is Milner one of the Premier League's most reliable characters and have Manchester City been foolish to let him join Liverpool?
Reliable is boring, boring is funny
Milner is no-nonsense personified. If he were an invention, he'd be something practical like a toothbrush rather than anything glitzy or glamorous.
And his frill-free aura on the pitch has been noted, leading to a 'boring' tag fuelled by a hugely popular spoof Twitter account - 'Boring James Milner'.
Its 397,000 followers include journalists, players and fans, and they are treated to tweets on Milner's supposed ironing, washing and shopping habits.
"Joe Hart invited me to his barbecue today but I couldn't make it as I had just put a 40°c wash on and that takes at least two hours to finish," read one tweet which was re-tweeted 596 times.
Roberto Mancini (140,000), Danny Ings (51,000) and heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua (239,000) are just three sporting figures with fewer followers than the witty account.
And Milner is more than aware of the traction it has gained, so much so he slipped into 'boring' character in a club video over Christmas, analysing presents including a nine-inch shovel for leaves.
There is a chance Milner could play alongside Mario Balotelli next season. Boring James Milner will have plenty to say about that.
Value - tried, tested and with more to come
"If you've never tried it, you can't miss it," Milner has said on alcohol.
If you need a player to drive the bus home while others indulge in celebrations, Milner - a life-long teetotal - is your man.
A hard trainer, aware of his diet, the Leeds-born midfielder is a solid family car in a league packed with Ferraris.
|A lot for your money...|
|Milner has moved for a total of £29.6m during his career and 520 outings for top-flight clubs mean he has cost an average £57,000 per appearance.|
|Mario Balotelli has made 179 appearances for Manchester City, Liverpool, AC Milan and Inter Milan at a cost of £330,000 a game.|
He has amassed experience - 520 games for Leeds, Swindon, Aston Villa, Newcastle and Manchester City - but will leave the Etihad for free.
The offer seems a steal for Liverpool and with a head-down, studious mentality and ability to play across midfield or even at full-back, Milner's availability was somewhat puzzling.
Manuel Pellegrini has said of his ex-charge: "There are players who are better technically yes, quicker players, yes. Players who head the ball better, yes. But show me one who does all the things Milner does well. There isn't one."
But British fans are a strange phenomenon, wired to love the mavericks - George Best, Paul Gascoigne, Eric Cantona. Milner is a man who colours inside the lines and his ability may well always be downplayed in favour of talk of work ethic.
His industrious, flair-free image maybe made the howls of laughter as Lionel Messi nutmegged him at the Nou Camp in March louder than they would have been for anyone else.
Typically professional, Milner got up, blocked out the laughs and ploughed on. Managers line up to talk of his professionalism and it would appear his career has much more distance to cover.
As creative as David Silva
Milner won over the vast majority of City fans as a player whose honesty is admirable, even with the quality signings their owner's Abu Dhabi money has brought.
His average of covering 11.7km a match last season was only bettered by George Boyd of Burnley (12.06km) and matched by Arsenal's Mathieu Flamini (11.7km).
But industry was far from all the England international delivered, with five league goals - his best return in a City shirt - and seven assists - as many as David Silva - also served up.
Milner's contribution to Manchester City's season was unquestionable and Manuel Pellegrini's side won 66% of the 18 games in which he started but only 60% when he did not.
But the sporadic starts perhaps underlines why Milner has left for free. His desire to play more, having started just 89 of a possible 190 league games at City, has proven too much for the lure of any new deal.
'An A-star person'
England manager Fabio Capello once called James Milner "my future" but his former Newcastle boss Graeme Souness was less complimentary, telling media: "Newcastle won't win anything with a team of James Milners".
Much water has passed under the bridge since then but 53 England caps, two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and the 2010 Young Player of the Year award perhaps shows Capello was right to be bullish on Milner's chances.
Some opportunistic Manchester City fans see his exit as the chance to buy bigger, better, more glitz, more sparkle. But the man ex-Newcastle boss Glenn Roeder called "an A-star person" will be missed by some.
"Milner is a top pro and I wish the rest of football had his attitude to his job and life outside of football," wrote a fan on ManCityfans.net.
"It's hard to leave him out," added Pellegrini. "Respect, commitment and performance level. You leave him on the bench and he's absolutely furious but watch him during the game, encouraging, shouting, supporting. And in the next training session he kills himself."
The Chilean claims to be Milner's "number-one fan" but may need to now join Twitter and follow a certain account if he is to be reminded of their time as Manchester City colleagues.