Aston Villa have confirmed that they have received and rejected a bid from Manchester City for their versatile midfielder James Milner.
There was strong speculation earlier in the week that City would be first out of the traps in the race to sign Milner, triggering a bidding war between themselves and bitter rivals Manchester United in the process.
City are also said to be keen to acquire Milner before he joins up with the England squad proper for this summer’s World Cup, mindful that the 24-year-old’s price tag could be inflated further by an impressive showing in South Africa.
The Eastlands side are understood to have lodged what they referred to as an ‘initial’ bid of £20 million for Milner early on Tuesday morning, therefore leaving plenty of room for negotiation on Villa’s part.
However, speaking late on Wednesday night, a spokesman for Aston Villa confirmed that the West Midlands club intend to spurn any advance made for their highly-rated star;
“We have received an offer from Manchester City for James Milner and this has been firmly rejected.”
“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.”
Milner found himself in a rich vein of form last season that eventually led to him being crowned the PFA Young Player of the Year.
The former Newcastle man’s impressive transition into a more central role for Villa has also seen him become a regular feature in the England squad under Fabio Capello, with the Italian coach constantly lauding his versatility and guile.