Petrov keen to build at Villa

But midfielder warns that without top-four finish he will follow Barry out of club

Aston Villa’s desire to seal a Champions League spot for next season with a top-four finish this has taken on even greater urgency after Stiliyan Petrov said yesterday that his future at the club depended largely on whether Gareth Barry stays at Villa Park. Barry has already suggested that he will leave should Martin O’Neill’s side fail to qualify for Europe’s leading club competition.

O’Neill recognises that persuading Petrov to sign a new contract is his “top priority” now the January transfer window has closed. The Bulgarian has been a key performer for Villa this season and has only 17 months remaining of his four-year deal following his £6m move from Celtic in the summer of 2006. Petrov says his own contract negotiations are on hold while Villa fight on two fronts – the league and the Uefa Cup, in which they host CSKA Moscow tonight in the first leg of a last-32 tie.

Petrov admits, though, that Barry’s plans – he came close to moving to Liverpool last summer – will have a bearing on what lies ahead for him in the long term. The England player’s contract also expires in the summer of 2010.

“The manager will try to show everybody that he wants to build something big here and one of the things is to keep Gareth Barry because he is maybe the most important player at the club,” Petrov said.

“If we keep Gareth it will also send out a message to all of the players, a big message that we are in for something big here next year. We all hope he is going to stay because he is one of the best midfielders in the country and you try your best to keep him if you want to achieve something.”

On the subject of his contract, he added: “There have been no talks – not at all. My job now is to play football. If the club is interested to offer me a new contract, they will contact my agent and speak about that.

“It is not a priority. There are other priorities at the moment – for the club to finish in the top four of the Premier League and go as far as we can in the Uefa Cup. That is the most important thing.”

Petrov rejects the theory that Villa have an advantage as CSKA have not played a competitive game since 4 December because of the winter break in Russia. But he acknowledges that it is a crucial 72 hours for the club, with Villa hosting Chelsea in a meeting of third versus fourth in the Premier League on Saturday which will help define their season and therefore Barry’s future.

Villa will be looking to bounce back after going out of the FA Cup 3-1 at Everton on Sunday. “We were really disappointed with the way we played against Everton,” Petrov said. “We were on the back foot and not as sharp as we normally are. They deserved to win. It is a very big week for us with two more very important games coming up. People might think it is easy against CSKA because their season hasn’t started. But we already know about them from looking at DVDs and they look a very strong team, with pace and players who can hurt you.

“They will have been aware when the draw was made of how good we are and we also have players who can hurt them. They will want to stay in this competition and will be ready.”

Barry will return after being ruled out of the defeat at Goodison Park through suspension, but fellow midfielder Steve Sidwell is banned after a red card against Hamburg.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past