Ronaldo 'very difficult' to replace, says Lampard | sports | Hindustan Times
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Ronaldo 'very difficult' to replace, says Lampard

Manchester United would have to sign Barcelona star Lionel Messi if they ever hoped to fill the hole left by Cristiano Ronaldo, says Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard. But Lampard believes United's loss could be the Premier League's gain as the fight for the league trophy is now somewhat closer.

sports Updated: Aug 21, 2009 17:03 IST

Manchester United would have to sign Barcelona star Lionel Messi if they ever hoped to fill the hole left by Cristiano Ronaldo, says Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard.

Ronaldo ended his five-year spell with United when he moved to Real in the summer as the Spanish giants launch an expensive rebuilding process after playing second fiddle in the popularity stakes to arch rivals Barcelona.

But Lampard believes United's loss could be the Premier League's gain as the fight for the league trophy is now somewhat closer.

"It is very difficult to replace Ronaldo," Lampard told the club's website www.chelseafc.com.

"I saw Alex Ferguson say that himself and I don't think he will look to replace him. He will look to make the team strong as a whole by not having him. That is the only thing they can do.

"The amount of times I flicked on the telly and saw Ronaldo had scored and they had won one or two-nil. (Lionel) Messi is probably the only player you could replace Ronaldo with.

"That is probably one of our big pluses this year - we didn't lose our big players."

Lampard believes that without Ronaldo at United the league race is now closer. That belief was backed by United's 1-0 defeat to league newcomers Burnley on Wednesday.

Lampard added: "The league is probably closer now, which has been a bit of a natural thing over the past few years.

"In United's case, you don't want to draw the promoted teams so early in the season. They come out of the blocks to try and get some points. It (the defeat to Burnley) wasn't completely unexpected. I thought it might be a difficult game for them."

Tottenham sit ahead of Chelsea in the league after two games thanks to superior goal difference while Arsenal, because of their Champions League duties in midweek, have played only one game and sit in third on three points.

While Spurs and Chelsea have won both their games so far, Liverpool and United have won one from two.

Lampard added: "We have now got a little bit of a lead over them and Liverpool. It is nice to get your noses in front."