Date: 10th December 2007 at 12:46pm
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Reports in Italy recently have been suggesting that the bearded wonder Olof Mellberg is set to sign a pre-contract with Serie A club Juventus.

However Martin O’Neill is still hoping he’ll stay: ‘I don’t know if there is anything in the Juventus link and Olof will tell me in his own time if that is the case. Players are free to make decisions here. This is an important contract for Olof. He has been here seven years and, in term of the commitment he has given since I’ve been here, I couldn’t ask any more. He has played out of position for most of this season at right-back and just got on with it. He might think a lot of things. He might think that seven years is a long time at one club in this day and age. ‘

Adding: ‘But I will still think, if we can come up with something which is reasonably suitable, that he might stay at Villa. But if he chooses to go, all he has to do is just let me know. We have been to-ing and fro-ing and I can understand this is an important decision for him. You have to look at a few things and it is likewise for players.’

Olof Mellberg said ‘The situation is the same as before. The focus is on Aston Villa, then we will see. I understand that there are many rumours since I am out of contract at the end of the season.’

MON has also confirmed that he will be talking to another defender who could leave on a free next summer, Martin Laursen. The Denmark international has said he is in the dark and will have to look at his options but the Villa boss said he’ll have talks this week. Laursen was asked after the 3-1 loss to Pompey if Villa were playing a ‘dangerous game’ in regards to his contract and he said: ‘a bit, yes’,

Martin O’Neill retorted that he has an appointment to talk to his agents this week and that it is not true they’ve played a dangerous game!

Oh for goodness sake, just sort it!

O’Neill said, ‘The fact is that he has played all the games. If he has got a choice in this matter, then that is entirely up to him. If Martin had played one game and then missed five, played one then missed five… I am not so sure that there would be a ‘dangerous game’ being played.’

‘With Martin this week I hope to sit down and have a chat. He has so far proved his fitness whereas this time last year, you would have had reasonable doubts about him.’

He does also concede that if both players have other options, it is possible that both will leave.

Come on Villa, these two guys are out and out quality!