Chelsea outcast Rudiger 'clashed with Azpilicueta in training and stars moaned about Lampard giving youngsters chances'

CHELSEA pair Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta 'clashed on more than one occasion', according to reports.

Frank Lampard's sacking yesterday has thrown open details of what went on behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge.

But it was at the Cobham training ground where the experienced defenders are thought to have gone at it.

According to The Telegraph, tensions had risen between players under Lampard's leadership and it spilled into incidents as club-captain Azpilicueta tried to restore the peace.

Frustrations allegedly manifested when Rudiger – outcast by Lampard for much of the season and dropped to fifth-choice centre-back – was handed back-to-back Premier League starts at Fulham and Leicester.

The Telegraph report also adds some of Chelsea's young players complained of poor treatment from grumpy older team-mates sidelined by the academy graduates.

There were said to be accusations of favouritism towards the players brought through the youth ranks at the club.

Problems ran deeper and longer, though, with Lampard's public request for funds last January, dropping record-signing Kepa Arrizabalaga and pursuit of released academy player Declan Rice all going down badly with the board.

A number of stars are said to have been left 'hurt' by Lampard's public criticism of the squad and believed him to lack empathy, despite his long career as a player himself.

The 2-0 defeat at Leicester proved to be the final nail in the coffin – with Chelsea chiefs spending the next morning looking for a replacement.


Roman Abramovich eventually pulled the trigger on Monday morning with the club ninth in the table, a string of poor performances, low confidence and no sign of Lampard turning the ship around.

The club legend, 42, was summoned for talks with chairman Bruce Buck and director Marina Granovskaia less than 24 hours after the 3-1 FA Cup win over Luton.

As revealed by SunSport, the 9am meeting lasted half an hour and there were no angry voices in what was a professional and difficult conversation on all sides.

Abramovich made his first personal comment on a managerial sacking, hailing his respect for and relationship with Lampard as Thomas Tuchel prepares to replace the ex-England midfielder.

Lampard released a statement on Monday night, thanking the board, players and fans for the last 18 months.

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He added: "When I took on this role I understood the challenges that lay ahead in a difficult time for the football club.

"I am proud of the achievements that we made, and I am proud of the academy players that have made their step into the first team and performed so well. They are the future of the club.

"I am disappointed not to have had the time this season to take the club forward and bring it to the next level."

Ultimately, Lampard left the club with the worst record of any Chelsea boss in Abramovich's 18-year reign in West London.

He managed just 1.67 points per game in the Premier League – just below Andre Villas-Boas – picked up just seven from his last eight matches in charge.

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