Ronaldo writes off prospect of Chelsea move

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The Independent Football

Ronaldo played down the prospects of a summer transfer to Chelsea for himself or David Beckham last night when he warned that even Roman Abramovich's billion-pound fortune could not buy the Champions' League semi-finalists the charisma and traditions of Real Madrid.

The Brazil striker, 27, intimated his interest in sampling the Premiership during his country's World Cup conquest of 2002, but is in no hurry to forsake the Bernabeu Stadium for Stamford Bridge. "Chelsea have lots of money, but they still have a long way to go to overtake Real," he said. "This club has history. It will take them a long time to match that."

Ronaldo was speaking to promote Sky Sports' coverage of the Champions' League, in which Chelsea visit Real's conquerors, Monaco, in the first leg of their semi-final tonight. He declined to discuss Beckham's private life beyond suggesting it had been "sensationalised", but felt the England captain was also likely to remain in Madrid.

"It would be very difficult for David to go back to England," Ronaldo said. "First of all, he has a [four-year] contract with Real. Secondly, he's very happy here. He has been very, very good in his first season and I expect him to be even better next year. His passes have created a lot of my goals."

Ronaldo, who is currently out of action because of a thigh injury, maintained that Chelsea had a "great opportunity" to reach the final. Tipping them to draw 1-1 in Monte Carlo, he cautioned Claudio Ranieri's side against underestimating the threat posed by Monaco, especially his one-time Real attacking partner, the on-loan Fernando Morientes.

"He's the complete striker, with great technique, and he could decide this match at any moment," Ronaldo said. "We thought the tie was in our grasp after the first leg so we felt terrible when we lost. We're disappointed that we can't win the Champions' League or Spanish Cup, but we're still fighting for the title. At Real Madrid we expect to win everything, every year."

According to Ronaldo, Chelsea's key player tonight could be one who did make the switch from Real to London SW6: Claude Makelele. "He is unselfish, always working and running, and he has great quality, although his real importance lies in the way that he protects the defence."

Despite his admiration for Chelsea, Ronaldo expects Deportivo La Coruña to win the Champions' League. The Galician club face Porto in the other semi-final, and he argued that, of the sides left in the competition, they have "the best and most experienced players".

Ronaldo's focus now turns to a possible comeback against Barcelona, one of his old clubs, who visit Real on Sunday. In the meantime, his thoughts are with another prodigy who blazed a trail from South America to Italy and Spain, Diego Maradona. "I was very sad to hear he is in hospital. Everybody loves him and I hope he'll be better soon."

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