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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 9 April, 2020

#Moving Ireland

INTERNATIONAL EXILE Stephen Ireland looks set to be confirmed as an Aston Villa player later today, with the former Ireland international midfielder moving to Villa Park as part-exchange for the signing of James Milner.

Oliver Kay of the London Times has reported on Twitter that Villa have given Milner permission to travel to Eastlands to undergo a medical exam prior to his signing a multi-year deal with City.

With City having already shelled out £22.5m (€27.3m) for Italian midfielder Mario Balotelli, the Blues baulked at Villa’s £25m valuation of Milner and instead opted to offer Ireland as a part-exchange to finalise the deal.

Kay tweeted that the fee for Milner had been agreed at £18m, including potential add-ons based on City’s performance over the coming years, with Ireland to move in the opposite direction.

Milner’s departure, while a good financial move for Villa with the midlands club having signed the player for just £12m from Newcastle last summer, means the Villans have now lost both their manager and best player in the space of a week.

City have also seen Craig Bellamy leave the club this morning, with the Welsh striker moving to Cardiff on a season-long loan, while Balotelli has agreed to swap shirt numbers with Irish international defender Greg Cunningham.

Cunningham had worn the number 45 shirt coveted by Balotelli, who wore that number at Inter Milan, and has agreed to take the number 22 shirt formerly held by Richard Dunne, who himself moved from City to Villa last year after a nine-year tenure.