The British press are reporting that Chelsea and Man City are involved in a tussle to obtain the services of Aston Villa’s England international, James Milner. It seems that Man City has increased its bid from £25m to £30m, after Villa rejected the initial bid. And now, Chelsea has joined in the fray. With the financial resources available to both clubs, this bidding war could reach astronomical heights and who knows, Milner may actually move in excess of £35m. If so, that would make Milner more expensive than David Villa, who has just been transferred to Barcalona for £34m!

Which begs the simple question – is James Milner worth such a large fee?

Well, certainly, Milner has played a big role in Villa’s top six finishes in the last two seasons and has recently broken into the England team but is he as influential a player as say, David Villa? Judging from the video highlights below, Milner is definitely a skillful player and an asset to any squad but for £35m? That seems unrealistic and another case of the money clubs distorting the transfer market completely.

Objectively, if I were Milner, I’d choose Chelsea of course, for Champions League football and for the fact that Chelsea’s squad is more settled than the transitional state of affairs at Man City. That said, it’ll probably boil down to the wages and in that department Man City may be willing to offer more than Chelsea. But if the sale goes through, what does it mean for Villa’s own ambitions? Surely Champions League qualification in 2010-2011 must be a priority and losing Milner would be a great blow. And although the Villa war chest would be enlarged, the message sent would be that Villa continue to be a selling club and is mot serious about major honours.

That last comment would reflect bascially on Villa’s own billionaire owner, Randy Lerner and how much he is willing to compete with the wealthy owners of Chelsea and Man City. Whatever the outcome, this early transfer saga will set the tone for the close season transfer market ahead, especially in shop window-sorry, World Cup year.

It’s going to be an interesting couple of months leading into 2010-2011 season.

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