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Milner deal moves closer

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That was the thrust of reports and comments that emerged that emerged Friday evening here in the UK as it appears that with the season rapidly approaching, all sides involved are keen to bring the protracted negotiations to a close.

It was first reported by The Mirror's David McDonnell that a deal for Milner was 'imminent' and then followed up Daniel Taylor in The Guardian that a breakthrough had been made with City agreeing to include Stephen Ireland as part of any deal - likely around £20million + Ireland.

And this morning most of the mornings press are carrying various quotes from Martin O'Neill, who is being very public with his view that a deal taking Milner to City is almost complete:

"We didn't play him against Valencia because there could be something happening in terms of the transfer oer the weekend or Monday or Tuesday."

"Until that possibly develops I thought it best to leave him out of the Valencia game. To my knowledge no fee has been agreed but talks are taking place involving our chief executive and the chairman.

"I think for everyone's benefit it is probably time to try and get something done."

City only genuine interest so whilst fee high has playing hardball to a degree worked?

Whilst not entirely sold on the arrival of Milner, there is definitely logic to bringing him in - Mancini is known to covet him - and perhaps a sign Mancini will opt for a 4-5-1 (morphing to a 4-3-3) for the most part - particularly if no goalscorer (ie, Edin Dzeko) is added.

Losing Ireland will of course be a blow and would mean that some much needed creativity and guile will be added to a Villa midfield that was sorely in need of it last season as they faltered down the stretch. And whilst he has struggled to regain the form he showed over that eighteen month period, moving into a side where he will be more of a focal point for the attack could rejuvanate him.

To counter that though, there is the suggestion that Mancini's staff are not entirely sold on Ireland, so if a player is going to be used sparsely at best, if he can be the key to bringing in a player that will have an impact and influence on the side then perhaps it is a decision that needs to be made.

What is important though is that the value of Ireland is recognised and he is not merely thrown in as a makeweight, and to that extent Rory Smith in The Telegraph suggests a deal of around £16million plus Ireland being valued at £8million could be agreed.

No doubt the weekend will bring more.