City seal Milner multi-million pound deal

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Aug 18, 2010 (AFP) - England midfielder James Milner completed his transfer worth a reported 26million pounds from Aston Villa to English Premier League rivals Manchester City on Wednesday.

AFP FILES - James Milner answers questions during a press conference at Arsenal's Training facility in London Colney, north London, on November 10, 2009.

Former Republic of Ireland midfielder Stephen Ireland moved in the other direction as part of the deal which saw Villa manager Martin O'Neill resign over a week ago as he was dissatisfied with the club selling their best players.

City had bought another of their midfield stars, English international Gareth Barry, in the close season last year.

City manager Roberto Mancini was delighted to have secured his sixth big money signing since the end of last season.

"I am very happy to have James with us, everybody knows we have admired him for some time," said Mancini, who replaced Mark Hughes last season and guided City to fifth in the league.

"He is an excellent midfielder, who can play in a number of positions. This is important for the team, and I am looking forward to seeing him play for us. We have a very strong squad, and this signing is a very important one for us.

"James is already a very good player, who has proved he can play at the very top level. But he is also young and a good character, I think he can also improve and be a great player for Manchester City for a long time."

Milner, who previously played for Leeds United and Newcastle United, played for England in their disappointing World Cup finals campaign and signed off his spell with Villa with a goal in their opening day 3-0 win over West Ham.

The 24-year-old is expected to make his debut for City on Monday against Liverpool.

Milner said that he had come to the club to win the top prize in domestic football.

"It didn't take too much selling by the boss when you see the players who are already here and the plans for the club," said Milner, who captained England to the 2009 European Under-21 Championship final where they were outclassed by a German side which included Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira, both of whom starred at the World Cup finals.

"The last thing he said to me was 'be ready for the next game', and then he said 'be ready to win the Premier League', and that's my ultimate aim - that's what I want to do and why I'm here.

"There's a lot of competition to get there, it's where we all want to be. I'm ambitious and I want to win trophies here. I believe this is a great place to do that and I believe we will do it. Hopefully, sooner rather than later."

Mancini - who is under enormous pressure to mount a strong title challenge this season - had already signed Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure, Spanish World Cup winner David Silva, German defender Jerome Boateng, Italian striker Mario Balotelli and Serbian fullback Aleksandar Kolarov.

Milner's arrival takes City's close season spending to around 120 million pounds.

Ireland's departure had been predicted after he fell down the pecking order last season but Mancini paid a handsome tribute to the Irishman, who played 142 times for the club, scoring 23 goals.

"I hope things go well for Stevie at Villa. He is also a very good player, and he has played a big part in City’s history," said Mancini.

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