Real fans want Lampard as Owen gives his approval

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The Independent Online

Real Madrid fans have put the Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard at the top of their wish list of players they would like to see the Spanish giants sign ahead of next season. In a poll conducted by top-selling Spanish sports daily Marca, 22.72 per cent of the 31,814 fans who took part said the club should make signing the 26-year-old Footballer of the Year their number one priority.

Real Madrid fans have put the Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard at the top of their wish list of players they would like to see the Spanish giants sign ahead of next season. In a poll conducted by top-selling Spanish sports daily Marca, 22.72 per cent of the 31,814 fans who took part said the club should make signing the 26-year-old Footballer of the Year their number one priority.

In third place, behind the highly rated young Brazilian forward Robinho - who is almost certain to join the club from Santos at the end of the season - was Liverpool's Steven Gerrard with 12.86 per cent, while Arsenal's Thierry Henry came in fifth behind the Internazionale striker Adriano. The Manchester United pair, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney, were in ninth and 10th place respectively. Eight of the top 10 are strikers, despite complaints from many fans that the reason for the side's recent lack of success has been its lack of balance.

The furious speculation on likely reinforcements has been prompted by Barcelona's weekend victory over the defending champions, Valencia, a win that left the Catalans with one hand on the Spanish league title and almost certainly condemned Real to a second trophyless season in succession for the first time in 13 years.

"Lampard is a fantastic player," said his England colleague Michael Owen when asked about the poll at a news conference after training with Real. "It doesn't surprise me that big teams in the world are interested in him because he's a great player. I've never spoken to him about anything like moving or what it's like in Spain, though.

"He's just won the league with Chelsea and he also won the League Cup. He's at a great club in England and I'm sure he's very happy there. He's also from London and he's playing for a London club. I don't know if there is any truth in the story but all I can say is that he's a very good player and a good friend, too."

Owen, who notched his 12th League goal of the season when he opened the scoring in Real's 5-0 rout of Racing Santander at the weekend, said he was not worried about speculation that the club wants to sign another striker to strengthen the side next season.

"If you're at a big club then the people running it always want to strengthen the team and whether it's a striker, a midfielder or a defender remains to be seen.

"As a striker you've got to keep playing well and scoring to keep your place and you've got to be able to handle the pressure. It's not something to be scared of but something to enjoy. Anyway we'll have to see what happens in the summer."

The 25-year-old former Liverpool player said he was more than satisfied with his season, but he regretted the fact that a trophy now looked to be beyond reach "I've made a good start here," he said. "I've adapted to a new life, played lots of games and scored goals. Overall, it's been very enjoyable. I would like to have won a trophy - La Liga or the Champions' League - but that's the only thing that's been missing. Everything else has been perfect."

With his old Merseyside colleagues reliving their European glory days as they prepare for the Champions' League final against Milan later this month, Owen said he expected to see a lot of lobbying for them to be given a place in next season's competition if they went on to win in Istanbul.

"If they win, it would be a strange situation if the champions can't defend their crown. But they've got a very hard task in winning the competition. If they do, I expect a big campaign from people in England to ask Uefa if they can go through. I wouldn't instigate a campaign myself but it would be an odd situation if the champions couldn't defend their crown. That's a long way off yet though."

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