The Aston Villa manager, David O'Leary, has spelt out his desire to sign four of his players - including the leading scorer, Juan Pablo Angel - on new contracts as soon as possible.
Angel, Gareth Barry and Thomas Hitzlsperger are all out of contract in the summer of 2005, while the current deal of Ulises de la Cruz runs out this summer. O'Leary, who has already pruned the squad by 11 players since he took charge in May, wants to tie up the services of his key players sooner rather than later. "I wish I could sign them now, the likes of Gareth, Juan Pablo and Thomas. I'd also like to keep Ulises," he said.
"It is not down to me, but I'd love it to happen - we don't want to lose them," he added. "What we want to do is add to them, not lose them." Barry has already expressed surprise at Villa not having opened negotiations, although the chairman, Doug Ellis, maintains talks will be held before the end of the current campaign.
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