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By ESPN Staff

Chelsea in Robinho negotiations, claims agent

Chelsea have stepped up their interest in Real Madrid forward Robinho after sporting director Frank Arnesen met with the player's agent.

New coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who began his Chelsea job today, has already signed Portugal international Deco from Barcelona and there are increasing signs that Robinho could be the next arrival.

Robinho's representative Vagner Ribeiro is determined to get the best move for the Real Madrid winger and claims he is better than Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been targeted by the Spanish champions.

'It's true that Chelsea are interested in signing Robinho,' Ribeiro told Spanish sports daily AS.

'They have been after him for a while and there has been much more contact since Scolari became the new Chelsea coach.

'I met with (Frank) Arnesen in London and he confirmed to me that Chelsea wanted my player for next season.'

The Spanish league champions are reportedly keen to offload the player to free up some cash to buy Ronaldo, but Ribeiro insists his client is as good as, if not better than, the Portugal international.

'Neither Robinho nor I like the fact that Real Madrid can use him as part exchange in their bid to sign Cristiano Ronaldo,' he continued.

'We don't like this attitude and we want Madrid to start valuing Robinho because at the moment they're not.

'Robinho is as good a player as Cristiano Ronaldo or better. The difference is that Cristiano Ronaldo reached the Champions League final and Robinho didn't.

'But if Robinho had won such a title he would be at the same level as Cristiano.'

Robinho played an important role in Madrid's league success last season - scoring 11 goals in 32 games - and enjoyed his best campaign since joining the club in 2005.

Ribeiro claims the 24-year-old is not keen to leave the Bernabeu but that he would seriously consider doing so if Madrid continue to ignore his talents.

'Robinho's priority is to continue at Real Madrid,' he added. 'But he cannot stay in a place in which they don't recognise his talent and at the moment Real Madrid are not doing that and I'm not talking about money.

'I'm referring to the fact that they are undervaluing him in comparison to Cristiano Ronaldo.'

Meanwhile, Scolari has been given a major boost in his bid to keep England midfielder Frank Lampard at the club after Inter Milan boss Jose Mourinho admitted the player would not be joining him until the 2009-10 season.

Lampard's future has come under further scrutiny since the arrival of Deco, who joined the club on a two-year deal yesterday.

The England ace, currently on holiday in Sicily, has one year to run on his current contract and is due to resume talks about an extension when he returns for pre-season training next Monday.

Lampard, 30, wants Chelsea to match the kind of money that Inter Milan can offer him and desires a four-year deal.

But Lampard has the option of letting his deal expire in order to quit Stamford Bridge as a free agent next summer.


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