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Marseille eyeing Joris Gnagnon


Four takeaways from Onyekuru's Everton move

By ESPN Staff

Villa's ambition persuaded Petrov to sign new deal

Stiliyan Petrov has revealed assurances Aston Villa are intending to build on this season's success convinced him to sign a new four-year contract.

The Bulgarian midfielder has put pen to paper on a new deal which will keep him at the Midlands club until the summer of 2013.

Petrov, who had 13 months left of his previous deal, has played a leading part in helping Villa secure an automatic European spot for the first time in 11 years.

He said: "I am delighted. It feels great to have sorted it all out. We've been talking about the contract for quite a few months and I've had a lot of people asking me about it.

"But I am really happy with the way the club handled it all. They left me to concentrate on the games and focus my mind on playing football. After a few meetings, everything has now been finalised and, in all honesty, I never had any doubts about it.

"When we started talking, the club assured me it was looking to build and become even more successful. That was enough for me.''

Petrov will be 33 when the new deal expires and is confident he has made the right decision to remain with Martin O'Neill's side.

He said: "It was a massive decision for me and my family because it's the stage in my career when I needed to consider everything. But I am sure I made the right decision. I am hoping to make the Villa fans very happy in the years to come.

"I had a difficult period when I came here initially but have been able to show what I am capable of this season.

"Villa have made great progress this season. I think we have done really well with a young squad.

"We have some really promising stars of the future - and they will gel and get better and better in the next few seasons. That is what is promising for this club and I want to be part of that.

"Quite a few of the lads are 22-, 23-, 24-years-old and they want to learn and improve and want to be known as good players and achieve something.

"It's great we have players like that here. The manager wants to strengthen too and make the team better next season. That gives me a lot of hope and the fans too.

"This club wants to move forward every single year. I hope next season will be even more successful than this one. We want to win silverware - some trophies - that's our aim. It's going to be a big season.

"The other clubs know we are a good team and will expect more from us. We need to be up for that challenge.''

O'Neill's next task will be to try and persuade stand-in skipper Gareth Barry to sign a new deal.

The England midfielder is also out of contract next summer and is keen to taste Champions League football.

Villa are understood to be preparing to offer Barry a bumper pay deal in an attempt to retain the services of a player who has already clocked up 400 appearances for the club during the past 12 years.

But O'Neill has admitted he would be content for Gareth Barry to see out the final year of his contract, even if it costs the club a sizeable transfer fee.

O'Neill said: "I have had very amicable discussions with Gareth's new agent (Michael Standing). There has been no hidden agenda by any stretch of the imagination.

"Nobody has been rushing around trying to make a quick decision on things. The perfect scenario would be we would love Gareth to stay on, even seeing his final year out if that is the case.

"The chairman's position (Randy Lerner) and mine hasn't really changed. We are not running around worrying about trying to cash in (on Barry).''

Liverpool are expected to again be in the hunt for Barry amid speculation that Xabi Alonso could move to Real Madrid at the end of the season.


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