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Zenit sign Bart Simpson

The Toe Poke 14 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 27, 2007

Barcelona dismiss Ronaldinho link to Chelsea

Barcelona have rubbished speculation linking Chelsea with an audacious move for Brazilian star Ronaldinho.

Sport director Txiki Berguiristain shrugged off rumours that Chelsea's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich held two meetings with Ronaldinho's brother and adviser in a bid to persuade the Barcelona star to join the Blues in the Premier League.

Berguiristain insists that Ronaldinho, who has three years left on his current contract, is staying at the Nou Camp.

Berguiristain told Catalunya Radio: 'We do not want to sell him. Ronaldinho is our player and I am totally convinced that he will remain at the club.

'In this aspect the decision of Barcelona is clear. It is normal that any of the big clubs in the world desire Ronaldinho, but he has signed a deal with us.'

Chelsea were linked with a £40million move for the Brazilian but, as usual, the club refused to comment on the rumours.

Meanwhile, England left-back Ashley Cole has paid tribute to midfielder Frank Lampard after the Chelsea ace scored his fourth goal in as many games for club and country against Portsmouth at Stamford Bridge.

Cole, who made a late goal-line clearance to ensure Chelsea overcame battling Pompey, said: 'You come here and Frank is loved by the Chelsea fans and again he produced the magic that we needed.

'I think it is a disgrace personally that before the England game he got booed. A player like that needs to be shown some respect and him scoring in that game showed so much spirit and fight and belief in himself.

'For me he is one of the best midfielders around and he is also one of the most under-rated players. He was brilliant every time I watched Chelsea play when I was at Arsenal with the amount of goals and assists he gets, and he popped up again with the winner this game.

'For me, fighting spirit wins titles. We had it at Arsenal when I was there and the lads here show great fight and spirit every game and it shows when we are not playing well, we nick 1-0s and that is what we need to be champions.

'Portsmouth was a tough game, they have good players, but I don't think anyone can question the start we have had, it has been brilliant - picking up a point at Liverpool which everyone knows is a tough game - and we knew this would be a tough game also.'

Goalscorer Lampard spared the blushes of David James by insisting it was the deflection off Herman Hreidarsson's foot which enabled his shot to beat him in the 31st minute.

James was criticised for only getting a hand to Lampard's 20-yard shot but the England midfielder was just pleased to see his effort hit the back of the net.

Lampard said: 'I think he was put off by a deflection, it came off Hreidarsson's foot I think, but there was power in it.

'He might have saved it had it been clean without a deflection but he has made untold great saves against me in the past, especially here, and I am pleased to see one get past him.

'It wasn't our best performance and we have dug in for a result in the end because Portsmouth did very well.

'Maybe we suffered from players coming back from internationals and we didn't have the pace in our game that we should have at home - like we had against Birmingham in the first game.'