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Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Thursday, 20 May 2010 16:24 UK

Aston Villa reject Manchester City bid for James Milner

By John Sinnott

James Milner
Milner is being put through his paces by Fabio Capello in Austria

Aston Villa have turned down Manchester City's £20m bid for their England international midfielder James Milner.

"We have received an offer from Manchester City for James Milner and this has been firmly rejected," said a Villa spokesman on Wednesday.

"We plan to sit down with James and his representative after the World Cup to agree a new long-term deal and this remains our position."

Speaking ahead of City's offer, Milner said he was unsure of his Villa future.

"Do I expect to be at Villa next season? I don't know. I've worked as hard as I can and concentrated on club football while the season has been on," the 24-year-old PFA young player of the year said on Monday.

"Now it has finished, I'm focusing on England - and that's the only thing I am focusing on."

Milner also says that the speculation about his future at the club will not affect his focus ahead of the 2010 World Cup.

The versatile midfielder is currently vying for a place in England manager Fabio Capello's final 23-man squad for South Africa.

"The speculation about my own future is not distracting. There are always going to be rumours about every player in every club when the transfer window opens," added Milner on Monday.

"To be linked with any clubs is flattering but I'm just concentrating on England at this time.

"The season finished at Villa a week and a bit ago and we all said we would discuss it (my future) after the World Cup.

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"I've enjoyed my time at Aston Villa, it's a good club, we've had a lot of success this season, came close in two competitions, and we are moving forward."

Leeds-born Milner, who joined Villa from Newcastle for £12m in 2008, is halfway through a four-year deal. He is currently with Capello's initial 30-man squad at their training camp near Salzburg, Austria.

Villa owner Randy Lerner said last week the club will do "everything" in their power to ensure Milner stays.

Chelsea and Manchester United have also been linked with Milner, though United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has talked of this summer's transfer market as being "very difficult".

Villa have secured Europa League football for next season having finished sixth in the Premier League and will not want to lose another influential midfielder to City following the departure of Gareth Barry to Eastlands for £12m last season.

Ironically, Barry is fighting to be fit for the World Cup, having suffered an ankle injury against Tottenham two weeks ago, with Milner in line to take his place in the side.

However, despite initial fears that he could be out of the tournament in South Africa, 29-year-old Barry is confident he can still win his fitness battle.

"The treatment on my ankle has been going well - I've been having regular sessions with the medical staff at Carrington, and they are pleased with how things are going," said Barry.

"It's too early to assess just yet as to whether I'll make it, I'll just have to keep having the treatment and see how things go over the next week or so. But I'm feeling positive still and the medical staff are being brilliant - they are doing everything they can to help me."

City, funded by the deep pockets of Abu Dhabi-based owner Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, are close to signing Germany international defender Jerome Boateng from Hamburg for £11m.

More signings are expected as City push for a coveted Champions League spot, having just missed out to Tottenham this season.

Milner has been in a rich vein of form, helping Villa finish sixth and reach Wembley twice for the Carling Cup final and FA Cup semi-finals, since O'Neill switched him from wide midfield to a more central position.

He has also become a regular in the England squad under Capello, and is widely tipped to be part of the final squad for the World Cup, which starts on 11 June.

Earlier this year, Capello described Milner as England's "most-improved" player, adding: "James Milner is a fantastic player. He is intelligent on the pitch. He passes the ball well. He creates goals and scores himself.

"He is a lot like Frank Lampard - younger, but with great energy."

But despite Capello's praise, Milner is determined not to rest on his laurels.

"It is nice to hear praise from any manager but it is then down to you to prove that is correct and drive on again and try and improve again," said Milner.

"You can't stand still especially with the competition that is about. You just want to become the best player possible and do as well as you can every time you train or play a game.

"Have I improved? You would like to think you've improved every season and I am lucky enough to be working at a good club with a great manager and staff and some very good players.

"There are some very good players here with England and, if you can't learn anything from playing with those sort of players, you are going to struggle.

"I'll just keep playing as well as I can and hopefully force my way into the 23."



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see also
Man City secure Boateng signing
05 Jun 10 |  Man City
O'Neill to stay as Villa manager
12 May 10 |  Aston Villa
World Cup scouting: attacking midfield
15 Apr 10 |  World Cup 2010
Rooney is PFA player of the year
25 Apr 10 |  Premier League
O'Neill denies Milner exit rumour
20 Apr 10 |  Aston Villa
Milner excited by Villa potential
17 Dec 09 |  Aston Villa
Milner enjoying central position
17 Dec 09 |  Aston Villa
Aston Villa seal Milner transfer
29 Aug 08 |  Aston Villa


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
The Independent Milner happy to play defensive midfield role - 4 hrs ago
ITV.com Milner focused solely on England - 5 hrs ago
Observer Young joins Milner on City's wanted list - 6 hrs ago
Virgin Media Milner: club future is on hold - 6 hrs ago
Bangkok PostVilla reject City bid for Milner - 15 hrs ago
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