Australian midfielder Mark Milligan is close to securing a deal to move from Melbourne Victory to Crystal Palace, according to reports in Australia.
Twenty four months ago, Milligan was nowhere near the Australian national team setup. He began to get a reputation as a journeyman among Australian soccer fans, but a loan and then permanent move to Melbourne Victory from J1 side JEF United Chiba seemed to change his fortune.
The Sydneysider was lauded when he was a youngster. He was one of the few A-League players to be called up for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. In the past, Milligan has been linked to European sides such as Porto and Werder Bremen. However work permit issues proved to be the last stumbling block on both occasions.
But in the last A-League season, the talented defender/midfielder was one of the shining lights in a very entertaining Melbourne Victory team. Milligan’s role in central midfield was vital as his transition play helped many attacks for the Melbourne side. With injuries to creative midfielder Gui Finkler and the indifferent form of marquee man Marcos Flores, his responsibility only grew. He quickly became a talismanic figure in Ange Postecogolou’s team.
After an outstanding season in the A-League, Milligan has been rewarded with call ups to the Australia national team, as well as interest from Queens Park Rangers in addition to Palace.
However, Milligan is cautious about moving so close to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. “To move would be quite a risk I think, especially when I’m so settled and happy where I am.” Milligan recently rejected moves to Middle Eastern side Baniyas in favor of a stay with the Melbourne side.
Coach Ange Postecoglou also keen for the Socceroo to stay. He said recently, “We’ve been pretty consistent. He’s a contracted player and a very valuable player. We value him very very highly.”
However recently Australian radio program Soccer Stoppage Time reported that Milligan had agreed personal terms with Crystal Palace and a fee only needed to be agreed between clubs.
If the rumors from Soccer Stoppage Time are true. Mile Jedinak’s position with the Australia national team may be in doubt. Milligan is already the preferred defensive midfield option for the Socceroos, with his passing range being far greater than Jedinak’s. Also, Milligan’s importance to the Socceroos was demonstrated most notably in his performance against Japan recently, which reaffirmed his status in the national team.
Not only does Milligan have a greater passing range but he has the ability to be box-to-box. His dynamism has helped Victory and more recently the Socceroos on a number of occasions. Milligan has shown to be able to adapt to a number of roles, where he can play in a very interchangeable midfield.
Despite all of his progress, he hasn’t featured in any games for Australia in previous World Cup tournaments. But a move to Crystal Palace would be a huge step for Milligan and would give him a great opportunity to prosper on the international stage to oust fellow countryman Mile Jedinak from the Australia team.