The rumour mill has been turning full circle at Villa Park over the last seven days as talk of a £25m move for James Milner continues to dominate the headlines.
Their spirited resistance to the advances of Manchester City have so far been admirable, but with Sheik Mansour’s bulging wallet weighing heavily upon them, they are set to yield to market forces sooner rather than later. It would appear that Martin O’Neill has already accepted that his prize midfielder will be drawn to the bright lights of Manchester (and a sizeable increase in salary) and has made contingency plans accordingly.
West Ham’s Scott Parker looks set to be the man to fill the vacuum in the middle of the park despite Hammers’ co-owner David Sullivan’s insistence that Parker is not for sale. The East Londoners could be swayed by the offer of Luke Young moving in the opposite direction but Martin O’Neill will have to compete with both Tottenham and Liverpool if he is to land the £8m rated player’s signature.
One man who won’t be joining Villa this summer is Jermaine Beckford. The potent frontman is out of contract with Leeds, after helping them secure promotion to the Championship, and has ambitions to play in the Premiership. O’Neill could do with the 26-year-old’s free-scoring touch as he aims to land a Champions League spot next season but looks set to lose out to Everton.
The goals that Villa crave could alternatively come from Tottenham’s Robbie Keane who Harry Redknapp has signalled will be available for around £15m. The Irish skipper hit a rich vein of form during a loan-spell at Celtic but may prefer a return to Scotland even if O’Neill can meet the hefty price tag.
Finally, Villa defender Curtis Davies has been mooted as a candidate to join Spurs in return for Jermaine Jenas coming the other way. Curtis has not played a game since dislocating his shoulder in August but Redknapp is keen to hand the 25-year-old an opportunity to get his career back on track. If that falls through, West Ham are reportedly willing to make an offer of £2m below Villa’s valuation.