Baniyas reject European bid for Milligan

A proposed European move for Mark Milligan has been knocked back by his UAE-based club Baniyas, meaning the Australia midfielder may be compelled to see out his two-year contract.

Australia v Tajikistan - 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualification

Milligan captaining the Socceroos Source: Getty Images AsiaPac

The former Melbourne Victory skipper’s deal runs until June, and the 32 year-old is keen to pursue options elsewhere, though an A-League return appears unlikely.

Baniyas are locked in a desperate Arabian Gulf League relegation battle, having picked up a paltry one point from their opening nine games, and rather than letting Milligan move on they have offered him an extension believed to be worth in excess of $1.5 million for a single season.

Milligan is seen by Portuguese coach José Manuel Gomes as a key figure in the club’s quest to turn the tide and fight their way clear of the drop zone.

That’s the the club's rational in batting away the interest from a European team which is competing in the UEFA Europa League, after falling short of Champions League qualification at the final hurdle.

Milligan knows how important he has become to the club, and would consider staying on – so long as Baniyas remain in the top tier.

“I am off contract at the end of the season and (my future depends) a lot on what Baniyas are thinking," he said.

“We are having a bit of a difficult patch at the moment, and that makes things harder as well. When you are going through a tough time a club doesn’t want to be losing too many players, because it means they have to start again.

“We have a young team and me and a couple of the other foreigners are quite important to them.”

Regardless of what transpires, Milligan has vowed to give his all for the club.

“If I think any further ahead, that’s when my football will start to suffer,” he added.

“I know what is required here and I will fulfill my commitments and the best way to do that is not to assume anything and do what I need to.”

Addressing the vexing issue of why he has not started in recent World Cup qualifiers, and whether it might be linked to his club's parlous plight, Milligan replied: “It’s always been said if you are playing regularly and do the job when you come into camp you will be given the chance.

”Obviously, we have a lot of midfielders playing at a high level, and I can only remain in the best possible condition and be ready to play.

“That hasn’t been the case lately but I will continue to prepare as well as I can because the national team is very important to me.”

Milligan said his next move would hinge on heading to a destination that will keep him at the forefront of the national set-up.

“My next move isn’t something I will take lightly and I am not going to rush into anything… I want to make sure it’s the best option footballing-wise and then location-wise," he said.

Milligan is doing his utmost to prolong his career, fully aware that the conditioning departments at clubs in the Middle East can sometimes be lacking.

“We have a very good medical staff and they have a lot of players that need looking after and I need to stay on top of a lot of things," he said.

“I want to play for as long as possible … it’s a shame you only really start to think about these things later on in your career “If I had done so when I was 19 or 20, things would be a lot easier. My game has changed … I was hell for leather in the past and your cause yourself a lot of problems."

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4 min read
Published 3 December 2016 at 7:19am
By Dave Lewis