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Rising Star James Milner Headed to Manchester City

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 27:  James Milner of England in action during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between Germany and England at Free State Stadium on June 27, 2010 in Bloemfontein, South Africa.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images
Sean HartnettCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2010

Manchester City are set to complete the signing of Aston Villa midfielder James Milner for a fee near £25m. Although the price for the England international seems steep on paper, "The Citizens" really don't have to worry about value for their money with their mega-rich owners.

For most clubs, even the very wealthy Chelsea or Manchester United, this deal would be a risk. However, City tend to care little about re-sale value or a player being a potential flop. All they're really looking for is the best talent that is willing to join. If the player fails, the club doesn't mind taking a loss when putting the player back up for auction.

Milner has the ability to justify his value when he arrives at City. 

The 24-year-old has come along strongly under the guidance of Villa manager Martin O'Neill, and strikes me as a player who will continue to improve.

Even when he was a Leeds youngster, Milner gave the impression that he was going to make it big one day. Now at Eastlands, he will be given a great opportunity. Surrounded by talent, he could show he's capable of taking that potential a step further in becoming one of the Premier League's best.

Last season was a year in which Milner achieved great individual success, winning both the PFA's Young Player award and being selected in the PFA Team of the Year. 

He must now follow the path of previous Premier League young talents like Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Cesc Fàbregas, by making that leap to super-stardom.

Now is the time for him to show that he can be held in the same regard as his fellow international teammates Gerrard and Frank Lampard. 

Milner could have done so for England in South Africa, but suffered through illness at the start of the tournament. Although, he was still able to put in fine performances and was probably his nation's best performing player at the World Cup. Unfortunately, England's shameful exit over-shadowed it.

City are really getting a truly fantastic player, as Milner is able to play anywhere across the midfield. 

If manager Roberto Mancini decides to use both David Silva and the young Adam Johnson on the wings, Milner could be "Gerrard-like" in a central role as he showed last year at Villa. When O'Neill gave him the chance to play in the middle, he rose to the challenge and displayed terrific all-around ability.

Previously, Milner was known to be a tricky winger whose delivery from wide areas was superb. Mancini could choose Gareth Barry and Yaya Touré to play centrally and use Milner on either wing. 

Finding a top-class winger is a rare find worldwide, let alone England. That sort of player is very hard to come by, but Milner performs the role exceptionally.

It's really hard to pick out a fault in his game, as Milner is the rare breed who can perform well in almost in position on the pitch. 

A potential transfer fee around £25m might sound a bit ludicrous. However, with his desire to improve and current skills, it may one day be looked back at as an after-thought.

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