Now's the time to sell midfield maulers
TEAMtalk's Simon Wilkes feels the time is right for Aston Villa and Liverpool to sell James Milner and Javier Mascherano respectively. James Milner and Javier Mascherano have been the focus of long-running transfer sagas so far this summer - and I think the time is absolutely right for Aston Villa and Liverpool to let them go. Last week TEAMtalk's Rob McCarthy claimed a move to Manchester City would be a huge mistake for Milner's career - and I admit I agree with him. But from Villa's perspective, I'd cash in on him now as his stock is sky high following a fantastic season and a reasonable showing at the World Cup. City have already had a £20million bid for the England midfielder rejected and seem set to up the ante to £25million this week, with Milner himself having told Martin O'Neill he's keen to leave Villa Park this summer. Milner was a star performer for the Villans last season and will be missed by the Midlanders if he moves on - but he's certainly not irreplaceable. However if I was O'Neill I'd be far more interested in the deal Tottenham are reportedly proposing than City's straight-cash offer for the 24-year-old. Spurs boss Harry Redknapp is believed to be ready to offer David Bentley, Robbie Keane and a few million for Milner's services - and if this is true Villa should snap their hands off. As Roberto Mancini has admitted, Milner is a "£10million player" so if Villa do get £25million for him, they'll find clubs bumping up their valuations of any player O'Neill targets as a midfield replacement. The Irishman has been a long-time admirer of both Bentley and Keane, who are far from first-team starters at White Hart Lane so would jump at the chance of regular football. Having bolstered his strikeforce and right-wing options without splashing any cash, O'Neill could then turn his attention to Milner's replacement, and there are two outstanding candidates who would be well within their financial reach. The first would be City dynamo Stephen Ireland, who has lost his way under Mancini and is way down the midfield pecking order at Eastlands. He thrived under Mark Hughes, a manager who filled him with belief, and was the heartbeat of City's resurgence two seasons ago. City may throw their toys out of the pram if they don't get Milner and refuse to do business, though, and if this happens O'Neill should contact his former Celtic employers and firm up his reported interest in Aiden McGeady. The Republic of Ireland star is a second-choice option as he prefers a wider role and is unproven in England's top tier - but he'd add strength to the Villa ranks, providing competition for Stewart Downing and Ashley Young. Now to Merseyside, where Reds fans are losing sleepness nights over the prospect of Fernando Torres leaving Anfield - maybe for City - this summer. Roy Hodgson claims the Spaniard's 'beef' is with the club, and not him, but the Liverpool gaffer should do all he can to push Mascherano into the arms of Rafael Benitez, who is keen to be reunited with the Argentinian at Inter Milan. A fee of £25million is once again being touted, and as Liverpool are likely to play with just one holding midfielder under Hodgson, they could spend that cash on players who will make Torres want to stick around as Alberto Aquilani and Lucas Leiva are already vying for the anchor role. The Reds desperately need a top-class left-back and a world-class striker to ease the burden on Torres, and the Mascherano money would allow Hodgson to get exactly who he wants as he continues to reshape the Anfield squad. Maynor Figueroa and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar have been mooted as possible targets and I think they'd be great additions. The transfer merry-go-round is likely to get into full swing this week as players return from summer holidays - and it'll be interesting to see what shirt Milner and Mascherano will be pulling on come the start of the new season.
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