Aston Villa 1 Manchester City 1: Mellberg denies deal with Juventus

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The Independent Football

Olof Mellberg says he will see out the remainder of his contract with Aston Villa and help them push for Europe, even if his long-term future may be away from the Midlands.

The Sweden defender has been linked with a move to Juventus although he denies signing a pre-contract agreement. His current deal ends next summer and he is expecting to hold talks with the Villa manager Martin O'Neill after the festive season.

Mellberg, who helped Villa draw 1-1 with Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday, said: "There are not really any developments. We haven't talked for some time now. The manager and myself said a few months ago that we would put it all on hold but I am sure we will talk after this busy period.

"Is the length of contract the stumbling block? Not really. I spoke to the manager and wanted to put it on hold for a while. But it was nothing to do with any terms in the contract, moneywise or lengthwise. We never got that far. I am sure we will talk a bit about the future and about everything after this busy period."

Mellberg, who has been operating as a makeshift right-back, said, "Would I like to stay at Villa? That is still an option but I am focusing on my performances. It is definitely not true that I have signed a pre-contract with Juventus."

Villa came from behind to earn a deserved point thanks to John Carew's fourth goal of the season. But Mellberg is aware they need more of a killer instinct.

"We haven't killed matches off," he said. "That has been the case over the last few weeks. We have teams down and are dominating the games and really putting pressure on teams and playing well probably up until the last third, when we are struggling to create those really big chances."

City picked up a rare away point thanks to Rolando Bianchi's third goal in the last three league games but he believes there is still more to come from him.

He said: "I was happy for that goal at Villa but I can play better. With my team-mates, I can score a lot because they play for me and they put me in the best condition for scoring goals.

"I am now playing a lot of games and, for me, that is important for my confidence. If I play, I can score because I have chances to score. It is also important to pick up points away from home if we are to qualify for Europe. At this time of the season, we have a lot of games and, if we collect points away, it is very important for the future."

Goals: Bianchi (11) 0-1; Carew (14) 1-1.

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Carson; Mellberg, Knight, Laursen, Bouma; Maloney (Petrov, 75), Reo-Coker, Barry, Young; Agbonlahor, Carew. Substitutes Not Used: Taylor (gk), Harewood, Davies, Gardner.

Manchester City (4-4-1-1): Hart; Onuoha, Dunne, Richards, Ball; Vassell, Hamann (Corluka, 70), Gelson, Petrov; Elano (Garrido, 76); Bianchi (Etuhu, 85). Substitutes Not Used: Isaksson (gk), Geovanni.

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire).

Booked: Aston Villa Barry, Reo-Coker Manchester City Hamann, Gelson, Ball, Vassell.

Man of the Match: Dunne.

Attendance: 41,455.

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