James Milner is to snub a new contract at Manchester City safe in the knowledge that a host of Premier League clubs are battling to sign him up.
Milner is out of contract next summer and is said to be willing to bide his time for a free transfer rather than sign the new four-year deal reportedly on offer at the Etihad.
The England man, who is 5/6 to make the starting XI for the Three Lions’ World Cup opener against Italy, has grown frustrated at being forced to operate out wide and believes his chances of cementing a first team, central midfield role would be increased elsewhere.
Arsenal, fresh from their FA Cup victory at the weekend, appear to be in pole position to land the midfielder but Arsene Wenger can expect stiff competition from neighbours Tottenham and Merseyside duo Liverpool and Everton.
The Gunners’ cup win ended a nine-year barren spell but this season promised much more before the north London club was decimated by injury.
Milner has played 51 games for club and country this term and is the ideal player to beef up a midfield that is regularly shorn of Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott.
Liverpool’s interest highlights Brendan Rodgers’ eagerness to build on a magnificent season for the Reds but with Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson established in the middle of the park Milner is unlikely to be in favour.
Tottenham would also need to have a major clearout of midfield players before the City man could contemplate a move to White Hart Lane but Everton could yet rival Arsenal for his signature.
The Toffees are unwilling to shell out £2.5m on Gareth Barry, with the 33-year-old a free transfer for everybody else, and Milner could be a like-for-like replacement.
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The former Leeds, Newcastle and Aston Villa man is a free agent next summer and if desperate to move could be available for a cut price during the current transfer window.