Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill has admitted James Milner wants to leave the club this summer.
The midfielder has already been the subject of a rejected bid from Manchester City following a brilliant season last term, which earned him three starting appearances in England’s World Cup campaign.
O’Neill told a press conference ahead of Villa’s friendly with Bohemians in Dublin on Saturday: “I had a conversation with James before the World Cup and he intimated that he’d like to go.”
City had an offer believed to be around £20m turned down by Villa in May, with the midlands club thought to be seeking in the region of £30m for the 24-year-old.
O’Neill added: “City made an offer but it did not meet our valuation. I’m sure matters will be resolved soon. James is back next week having had an extended holiday.”
Milner excelled after moving from the right into the centre of midfield last season and was the key player in Villa’s Champions League challenge, although they eventually lost out to Tottenham for fourth spot.
City have already signed midfielders Yaya Toure and David Silva this summer and manager Roberto Mancini said this week they would not be rushed in their pursuit of Milner.
Losing a star man to big-spending City would not be a new experience for O’Neill, who last summer saw captain Gareth Barry make the move to Eastlands.
The Villa boss, meanwhile, has been linked with West Ham midfielder Scott Parker should Milner leave but co-owner David Sullivan said their rivals would “not have enough money” to tempt them to sell the 29-year-old.
Richard Dunne, who moved in the opposite direction to Barry last summer, does not begrudge Milner the move but warned the midfielder he could be giving up a guaranteed starting spot.
“It’s part of football,” said Dunne on www.bbc.co.uk.
“He has had a great season so teams are going to be interested. If a club is going to offer enough money then players will move on.
“The manager has proven he can pick out a good player and usually, like James, he has bought them for a cheaper price than he sells them for.
“The club will miss James, who has been brilliant, but we have to move on and the manager will build again I suppose.
“James will know, because he is moving to a big club which wants to win the league, that he will be part of a squad. At Aston Villa he will play every week, at Manchester City he may not.
“But it’s the opportunity where he thinks he can go and win the league. Man City is a great club and he will enjoy himself there. Team-wise it’s going to be difficult for everyone to get in the team.”
Milner, who became the youngest Premier League goalscorer when he netted for Leeds against Sunderland nine days before his 17th birthday, cost Villa a reported £12m from Newcastle in 2008.