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.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
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.

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone