MATTHEW MILLS was on the verge of completing a £300,000 move to Manchester City last night.

The 19-year-old defender has set his heart on a move to the Premiership and a reunion with Steve Wigley, the Manchester City reserve team coach.

Mills is out of contract at the end of the season and if he had waited until the summer to leave, Saints would be entitled to a maximum of £250,000 in compensation.

But Saints are likely to benefit as there are several 'add ons' that would take the deal up to £700, 000 if Mills makes the grade, as well as a healthy sell-on clause.

Mills scored three goals in 12 appearances while on loan at AFC Bournemouth last season - yet only started five games for the club that produced him.

After making his first team debut for Saints in the 3-0 Carling Cup win at Southend in September, Mills was on the losing side in his only other four starting appearances.

He was believed to be unhappy at the contract offered to him by Saints recently and will now have the chance to start afresh at the City of Manchester Stadium.

Leon Best is expected to complete a £500,000 move to Crystal Palace, with the exodus set to continue at the end of the season, when academy director Huw Jennings will become the Head of Youth Development at the Premier League.

Jennings said: "I have had eight fantastic years at Southampton when we have gone from being a small operation to an organisation that we believe is at the cutting edge of youth development."