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Manchester City & Aston Villa in James Milner stalemate

James Milner
Milner joined Villa from Newcastle for 12m in August 2008

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has said Manchester City are not prepared to meet the Midlands club's valuation for midfielder James Milner.

In May, City had a £20m bid rejected for the 24-year-old, who had "amicable" talks with O'Neill on Monday after earlier indicating he wanted to leave.

"The latest state of play is Manchester City have gone as far as they want to," O'Neill told the club's website.

"We'll wait with bated breath on that one, myself included."

O'Neill added: "I think obviously the overriding opinion of all Villa fans is that they would love James to stay at the football club.

I can understand totally that players would be affected by offers from Manchester City, particularly in this day and age where it looks as if they can get who they want

Martin O'Neill

"But as I speak here now at this minute, my honest opinion, I cannot guarantee that, but we will see."

Reports have suggested City are unwilling to pay more than £24m for the England international, with Villa believed to be holding out for £30m for a player who cost them £12m from Newcastle United in August 2008.

"I think the owner [Randy Lerner] puts a price on players. Of course, he will have an idea on the price," explained O'Neill.

"Negotiations are being conducted by the Villa chief executive [Paul Faulkner] and the owner and I will be guided by them."

Professional Footballers' Association young player of the year Milner returned to full training with Villa on Monday after being granted an extended summer break following his involvement in the World Cup with England, where he played in three of his country's four matches.

He did not take part in Villa's 2-1 friendly win over Walsall on Tuesday but is set to fly out to Portugal with the squad on Wednesday for the Guadiana Cup, featuring Benfica and Feyenoord.

The transfer window closes at the end of August and if Milner does remain at Villa Park, O'Neill is sure the player's professionalism will shine through.

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"There is no question that James Milner will continue to give his best if the deal doesn't go through," added O'Neill.

"James loves playing and last season played when others wouldn't.

"That is why I have no concern in regard to his character and involvement with Villa."

The ongoing transfer saga with Milner echoes that which resulted in Gareth Barry eventually swapping Villa Park for Eastlands in June 2009 in a £12m deal.

And O'Neill admitted that the opportunity to join City, who have been tipped to challenge for the Premier League this season having spent more than £80m this summer already, is an attractive one for players.

"I can understand totally that players would be affected by offers from Manchester City, particularly in this day and age where it looks as if they can get who they want.

"Some of us a season or two ago had a wry smile when they were after Kaka and we thought that was just impossible - and now you get the impression that within a month or two, he wouldn't get into their team!"

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see also
Young poised for Liverpool move
28 Jul 10 |  Aston Villa
Milner has 'amicable' Villa talks
26 Jul 10 |  Aston Villa
O'Neill prepared to sell Milner
22 Jul 10 |  Aston Villa
Milner wants to go - O'Neill
22 Jul 10 |  Aston Villa
Villa reject 20m bid for Milner
20 May 10 |  Man City
Aston Villa seal Milner transfer
29 Aug 08 |  Aston Villa

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