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Transfer Talk: Milner on the brink of City switch after O'Neill concedes defeat in lengthy battle

Manchester City are hoping to complete the long-running £24m transfer of James Milner from Aston Villa this weekend after Martin O'Neill, the Villa manager, admitted a move was on the card.

Milner sat out Villa's 0-0 draw with Valencia last night and O'Neill explained this was to help facilitate a deal. "We didn't play him against Valencia because there could be something happening in terms of the transfer over the weekend or Monday or Tuesday," O'Neill said.

"To my knowledge no fee has been agreed but talks are taking place involving our chief executive and the chairman. I think for everyone's benefit it is probably time to try and get something done. Losing your best players at the club obviously causes you a headache and it is a problem.

"It happened two years ago with Gareth Barry when it was not resolved. I'm sure that no-one wants to go down that route again."

Earlier, the City manager, Roberto Mancini, sounded optimistic about the midfielder. "We are close with Milner," said Mancini, who has already spent a combined total of around £80m during the close season on David Silva, Jérôme Boateng, Yaya Touré and Aleksander Kolarov.

Meanwhile, City's neighbours United have allowed striker Mame Biram Diouf to join Blackburn on a season-long loan.