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Ballack laughs off Fergie age taunts

SoccerNews in English Premier League 26 Jul 2008

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Star midfielder Michael Ballack said he had nothing left to prove in the latter part of his career and backed Chelsea's 30-somethings to have the last laugh over Manchester United's Alex Ferguson.

The 31-year-old newly-wed dismissed Ferguson's comments about Chelsea's age as pre-season chatter, insisting there was still room for improvement under new coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

“Our team can still improve. If you are 30 or 31 you are not old,” said Ballack after joining Chelsea's tour here.

“Last year Maka (Claude Makelele) was 34 and he played very well. I have nothing to prove, this type of thing happens over the summer, people talking about each other.”

And Ballack said new signing Deco, 30, could prove the difference as Chelsea aim to make up for narrowly missing out on last year's Premiership and Champions League titles to United.

“Maka has left and Deco has came in. We have a good squad and we need a good squad. We want to win a lot of trophies so we need a big, good squad,” Ballack said.

“Deco is a fantastic player, he gives us more quality and that is what we need. You don't have to sign a lot of players, just quality.”

Ballack also urged Frank Lampard, another golden oldie at 30, to put pen to paper on a reported record-breaking deal.

“It would be fantastic if he could stay at Chelsea. He is a big player for the club and has done a lot for the club, but it is up to him. He knows we are all behind him,” said the German.

Scolari has refused to react to Ferguson's comments, but both Deco and Michael Essien have also defended Chelsea's squad.

Ballack said he took to heart from Chelsea's strong finish last season which left them two points behind United in the Premier League.

“If the season was two weeks longer maybe we could have won the league, but we are always competitive,” he said.

“Man U are always competitive and have had two fantastic seasons and won the double last year. But we were very close so this year (we) will aim to be first.”

Ballack was given extra time off after Germany reached the Euro 2008 final. He married long-time sweetheart Simone Lambe in his home country earlier this month.

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