Martin O´Neill is refusing to give up hope of persuading long-serving defender Olof Mellberg to stay at Aston Villa and sign a new contract.

Mellberg, whose current deal runs out next summer, is reported in the Italian media to be ready to sign a pre-contract with Juventus.

But he has not told Villa boss O´Neill that he is close to ending his seven-year association with the midlands club, and O´Neill said: "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."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2007, All Rights Reserved.

Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: