Stephen Ireland has been largely ineffective since his arrival from Manchester City in August of 2010. To be fair, there have been moments where he looked like the player who was named City's player of the year in the 2008-09 season, but by and large he has been a dark reminder of the tumultuous state of the club in the days after the abrupt departure of Martin O'Neill. The deal wouldn't have been too terrible if it weren't for the fact that Ireland came with high wages and was used as a make-weight in a deal for James Milner.
Well now it appears that after a season in which he saw the pitch during league play only 13 times Middlesbrough are looking to bring the midfielder to the Championship. The hold up, of course, is Ireland's wages, reported in some places to be around £65,000. Manager Tony Mowbray isn't confirming anything, but the ties have popped up a few times and the rumblings are getting louder.
At this point it'd be crazy to think that Aston Villa are going top get some club to take on Ireland's contract and wages in their entirety, so they'd be wise to accept nearly any offer. Ireland is in the Darren Bent camp: it's clear that he isn't a part of Paul Lambert's plans and the money spent on him is already sunk. Anything recovered now is essentially free money, so take what you can, Villa.