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Page last updated at 17:19 GMT, Wednesday, 27 August 2008 18:19 UK

Milner transfer demand sparks row

James Milner
Milner is thought to be a 9m target for Aston Villa

James Milner's representatives have hit back at Newcastle after they revealed he has handed in a transfer request.

The 22-year-old has been heavily linked with Aston Villa and informed Newcastle of his desire to leave last Wednesday.

A statement said: "The Professional Footballers' Association, who represent James, are disappointed his request has come to the public's attention.

"James' request was handed in on 20 August, at which point it was asked by Newcastle to keep the matter private."

Mick McGuire, the PFA's deputy chief executive, continued: "The request was given because the player was looking for an improvement on his contract that reflected his development and his value to the club."

A Newcastle statement released earlier on Wednesday confirmed that Milner had requested a transfer, but the club were yet to receive a suitable offer for the midfielder.

James has been professional in keeping the matter private whilst giving strong performances for Newcastle United.

PFA deputy chief executive Mick McGuire
"We have yet to receive an offer for James that matches our valuation," it read.

"However, should such an offer be received then the club will be reluctantly forced to consider it, given James's apparent desire to leave.

"The club is very disappointed that James sees his footballing future as being away from St James' Park. He is a valued member of the squad and it is only a year ago that he signed an improved long-term contract here."

Newspaper reports claimed on Wednesday that Villa boss Martin O'Neill was preparing a 9m offer for Milner, who joined the Magpies from Leeds in 2004.

He was on the verge of joining the Villans in August 2006 for around 4m after a lengthy spell there on loan, but Newcastle pulled out of the deal at the 11th hour at the end of the transfer window.

O'Neill said he is keen to strengthen his squad before the transfer deadline on 1 September and admitted: "Am I a fan of Milner? He was nearly here two years ago, he nearly signed but it didn't materialise.

"It was disappointing at the time but it was two years ago."

Rocking Rio
Liverpool have also been linked with a move for Milner, who signed a new four-year contract at St James' Park only last year.

"To clarify the situation, James did sign a contract 12 months ago," added McGuire.

"However this agreement was reached with the club nearly 12 months previously at the point in which Newcastle had agreed to sell James to Aston Villa on transfer deadline day 2006 before cancelling the agreement at the 11th hour.

"Although the transfer request was handed in seven days ago James has been professional in keeping the matter private whilst giving strong performances for Newcastle United."

see also
Wednesday's gossip column
27 Aug 08 |  Gossip
Coventry 2-3 Newcastle (aet)
26 Aug 08 |  League Cup
O'Neill upset over Milner episode
01 Sep 06 |  Aston Villa

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