Ballack - Lampard among best
Michael Ballack has been left shocked by Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard's omission from the PFA Player of the Year award shortlist. The winner of the prestigious award will be announced on Sunday, with Manchester United quintet Nemanja Vidic, Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, Edwin van der Sar and Cristiano Ronaldo in the running, along with Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard. But Ballack, who plays alongside Lampard and Michael Essien in Chelsea's midfield, is adamant that the England ace should have been among them. "Frank has played consistently at a high level all season," said Ballack. "I don't know why he was not nominated but at Chelsea we know how good he is and that is all that matters." Good playerHe added: "It is easy to play with Frank because he is such a good player. He knows what myself and Michael have to do and whether we should be in an offensive or defensive position. "I play a little bit behind him but I don't have to tell him what to do. He always does the right thing, depending on where myself and Essien are. "Frank is one of the best players in the world for sure and I don't think there are many players in the Premier League like him." Chelsea's draw with Everton on Wednesday effectively killed off their faint Premier League title hopes. The Blues must now concentrate on UEFA Champions League and FA Cup success, with a visit to Camp Nou to face Barcelona first up on Tuesday night. Deco's viewChelsea playmaker Deco, who is struggling to overcome a hamstring problem for the game, knows all about the threat posed by Barca's Lionel Messi after playing with him during his spell with the club. "He was 17 when he started training with us," said Deco. "He is still young but now he is a fantastic player and at the moment everyone is saying he is the best player in the world. "Maybe he is, but his style is difficult to stop because he keeps the ball so close and he is small. "We know this but we have a good defence, for me the best defence in the world, and we will see. "The first time Messi trained with us he was very quiet and timid but we started to talk to him and we liked the way he was because he showed many qualities. As soon as he came to train with us we could see that he was special."
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