O'Neill: There is little I can do if Milner really wants to leave Villa for Eastlands

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The Independent Online

The Aston villa manager, Martin O'Neill, has admitted that it will be very difficult to keep James Milner at the club this summer if the midfielder wants to join Manchester City.

Villa have already dismissed a £20m offer from City but are bracing themselves for an improved one. "Eventually, if players do want to leave the football club, then it becomes more difficult [to keep them] than ever." O'Neill said. The 24-year-old has two years of his contract remaining, but has so far declined to sign an extension at Villa Park, which he was offered at the end of last season.

Internazionale's 19-year-old striker Mario Balotelli is quickly becoming Manchester's most wanted man. After much speculation that Manchester United and Manchester City are both vying for his signature, his agent, Mino Raiola, revealed: "The interest of Manchester for Balotelli is concrete and both clubs have confirmed it."

Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, has backed the promising Italian Under-21 international to flourish in the Premier League. "I think a player with this type of character would be better suited here than in Italy," he said. "It's difficult to find a young player with this quality." When asked about United's bid he added: "It's a team that has a great tradition and brings out the characteristics of this type of player." Ancelotti also stated he would like to coach the player at some point, but did not say that Chelsea were interested.

It is understood that Inter are demanding a sizeable fee of around £33m for them to consider ending the forward's contract three seasons early. However, reports suggest that a potential deal including United's 18-year-old Italian striker Federico Macheda would make the new Inter coach, Rafa Benitez, more willing to part with Balotelli.

Another Inter forward who may be leaving San Siro is the Nigerian international Victor Obinna, who would welcome a move to Stoke City after being linked with the Potters. "Stoke are a very powerful team," the 22-year-old said. "I am a powerful player so I will be at home there."

The French striker Djibril Cissé is hoping for a return to the Premier League and to rejoin Liverpool after signalling his intention to leave Panathinaikos. "I like Arsenal, because my friends are there, Manchester is nice, but my club is Liverpool – I fancy coming back." Cissé may not have set Anfield alight in his two seasons there, but did score 23 goals last season.

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