Multiple sources are reporting that the deal is finally finished. At this point, I'm totally numb to it all.
My head says yes, of course this is a fantastic deal for Aston Villa. We get some cold, hard cash. We found ourselves a decent replacement in Stephen Ireland--and one that could, in fact, produce just as good a player, provided that Villa use him correctly.
A couple things to remember: Ireland is not a like-for-like replacement. When Villa shifted Milner to the middle last season, he was used as a box-to-box midfielder, whereas Ireland doesn't have the same sort of defensive capabilities. What Ireland excels at is the ability to distribute the ball--and he's a pretty good shot, actually converting more of his chances than Milner.
This is where Villa fans should be pleased that Martin O'Neill has taken off, as Kevin MacDonald looks much more likely to move away from a straight 4-4-2, and hopefully whoever becomes our permanent manager will be as well. With Ireland on the field, Stiliyan Petrov will need to play deeper to compensate for the missing defensive abilities of Milner. But if Villa continue to use Ashley Young as a withdrawn striker, and keep Stewart Downing and Marc Albrighton out wide, opposing defenses just might be overwhelmed at the amount of movement at the front of the field.
As for James Milner, well, I wish him the best. He was caught up in a lot of crap over the past couple months, but he just put his head down and did his job. I'm not gonna lie--it's going to hurt to see him in a City shirt. But for the sake of England, I hope the team doesn't keep him on the bench.