Juninho shock "I want to play for Villa" (10 Jan)
Brazilian star Juninho has claimed that Aston Villa would be his ``first choice'' if he decides to  return to England. 

 Villa boss John Gregory is reported to be stepping up his bid to sign the former Middlesbrough star to bolster the club's championship challenge. 

 And Juninho's agent Gianni Paladini indicated the player would be willing to reduce his wage demands - the factor that has scuppered any deal with Villa in the past. 

 Juninho, who is also a target for Barcelona, is unhappy at Atletico Madrid because of the tactics of coach Arrigo Sacchi. 

 Paladini said: ``Juninho would like to play for Aston Villa because he likes John Gregory's ways and the fact that he has a successful team. 

 ``If he came back to England, Villa would be in his sights. Juninho met John Gregory a few months ago and was impressed. 

 ``Juninho does not like playing for Sacchi because he is too defensive in his approach. 

 ``His wage demands have put Villa off before but he would be prepared to accept less money. 

 ``He wants to play in England again although Barcelona are also interested. I'm waiting to speak to John Gregory and maybe something can happen.'' 

 Gregory has made no secret of his admiration for Juninho and only this week admitted he would have to strengthen his squad considerably if Villa secure a Champions' League place. 

 But he is looking to bring in Juninho to give a fresh impetus to a season which, by his own admission, has already exceeded his expectations. 

Martin Sivorn © 1999.E-Mail Me