James Milner backed to emulate Zlatan Ibrahimovic due to "astonishing" mindset

James Milner has been compared to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and backed to continue playing into his 40s by his former England teammate Micah Richards.

Milner, 35, continues to prove himself a dependable and tireless performer for Liverpool, able to operate in midfield or plug gaps in other positions for the Premier League champions.

Meanwhile on the continent, Zlatan Ibrahimovic continues to defy his 39 years and has been in electric form for AC Milan.

The former Barcelona and Manchester United striker plundered 10 goals in seven games to help Milan go top of Serie A, and recently returned from a calf injury.

Richards drew comparisons between Ibrahimovic and Milner as he heaped praise on his former Manchester City colleague.

"Whenever I'm asked about the level of professionalism every player should aspire to, I use him as the example," Richards told BBC Sport . "He doesn't drink alcohol and he is probably fitter now than I was in my prime.

"There's no sign of him stopping, either. He left City for Liverpool in 2015 for more game time, and he still has that hunger.

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"Like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he is one of those players who can just keep on going. I honestly think Milner could still be playing in the Premier League aged 40, if he wants to."

Milner was a vital member of the Liverpool squad which clinched Champions League glory in 2019 and lifted the Premier League last season.

He is rarely absent through injury and has amassed 231 appearances for the Reds in five-and-a-half seasons.

Is James Milner a Liverpool legend? Have your say in the comments.

Richards added: "His mindset is astonishing; he never has a day off. Out of everything I've said, it is that character and experience that will really make the difference for Liverpool with what they are going through now.

"We won the Premier League together at City in 2012 but there were times that season when things were not going well. He was one of the people who kept everyone going.

"He wouldn't let us get super-excited when we were on a winning run, but he also wouldn't let us get too low when we were losing games and losing ground in what was a very tight title race.

"It was the way he did it too – not by shouting and bawling but by giving you proper information about what you were doing right or wrong.

"As well as what he says, he leads by example in every way. I know he's had a few little niggling injuries recently, but he's still as fit as ever.

"And that is not down to luck – it is because of hard work and his total dedication to his career since he made his Premier League debut for Leeds in 2002, aged 16."

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