| 8.1°C Belfast

Ireland pleads with Mancini to let him quit City

Manchester City are to listen to offers for Stephen Ireland following the midfielder's decision to submit a verbal transfer request at Eastlands.

Ireland, 23, has informed manager Roberto Mancini and City's football administrator Brian Marwood that he wishes to leave the club after losing his regular first-team spot.

The former Republic of Ireland international is just 12 months into a five-year contract at City, but the Cork-born midfielder failed to repeat his impressive form of last season.

Mancini left Ireland out of their team on numerous occasions last term.

While Mancini is keen to retain Ireland, the Italian has assured him that he will respect his desire to leave should the club receive a suitable offer, likely to be about £10 million.

A part-exchange deal involving James Milner could emerge should Aston Villa reject any advance on City's £20 million offer.

Villa or even Sunderland appear a more likely detsination for Ireland even though Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is an admirer.

A City source said: “It has been a difficult year for Stephen and he feels that he needs a move to refresh his career.”

Manchester City are also understood to be chasing Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta.

However, the Everton star is also a target for Arsenal and Manchester United.

There is little love lost between Everton manager David Moyes and Mancini following their touchline clash last season and Moyes will be determined to keep hold of the Spanish playmaker.

Arsenal’s interest in the player is expected to grow if they lose captain Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona, who have tabled a £30million bid for the midfielder.

Belfast Telegraph