James Milner's transfer to Manchester City has finally been completed, with the England international moving to Eastlands for a cash-plus-player deal valued at £26 million.
The transfer ends a saga that starting in May when Manchester City submitted its original bid for Milner. Milner subsequently expressed his desire to move to City, a wish that came to fruition on Wednesday.
Milner had gone to Manchester on Tuesday to undergo a physical and finalize his new contract. The midfielder signed a five-year deal to complete City's part of the transfer, with Aston Villa's part finalized with Stephen Ireland's four-year deal at Villa Park.
Milner is the reigning Professional Footballers Association Young Player of the Year. The 24-year-old joins his fourth club, having started his career for hometown Leeds United before moving to Newcastle, then joining Aston Villa.
At Villa Park, Milner appeared in 73 league matches, recording 11 goals. For England, Milner been capped 12 times and was selected to this summer's World Cup squad.
Stephen Ireland, seven months younger than Milner, fills a hole in Villa's in central midfield, providing a missing attacking presence. After debuting for City in 2005, Ireland made 138 league appearances, scoring 23 times and earning the club's Player of the Year honor in 2008-09.
In 2009-10, Ireland appeared only 22 times (having appeared 35 times the prior season), having lost his place in the team after Roberto Mancini replaced Mark Hughes.