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3 Feb, 2021 12:55

‘So many nonsense rumors’: Chelsea defender Rudiger denies Lampard feud led to brutal sacking of Blues icon

‘So many nonsense rumors’: Chelsea defender Rudiger denies Lampard feud led to brutal sacking of Blues icon

Chelsea's German defender Antonio Rudiger has denied reports that off-field rancor with former boss Frank Lampard played a part in Roman Abramovich's move to replace the club legend with ex-Paris Saint Germain coach Thomas Tuchel.

The Chelsea first-team squad was dogged by reports that the German international defender had become a toxic presence in the locker room amid reports of a bust-up with club captain Cesar Azpilicueta and several of the club's young players which culminated in a fractious feud with Lampard.

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However, it seemed as though former Roma center-back Rudiger had returned to good graces after he started three of Lampard's final four games in charge before he was unceremoniously sacked last week - but with the club now under a change of pace under the thumb of a new boss, Rudiger has moved to dispel any rumors of acrimony between he and Tuchel's predecessor. 

"Frank Lampard trusted in my abilities after Christmas in a very difficult situation and I was thankful for this," Rudiger told The Athletic.

"It was also the main reason I told my representatives not to look for a possible winter move anymore. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be for our team to turn things around for the coach. We always wanted the best for the manager and for the club."

Tabloid talk had suggested that Lampard attempted to move on from Rudiger last summer and he began the season with Brazil captain Thiago Silva flanked by Frenchman Kurt Zouma at the heart of the Chelsea backline.

Zouma, though, has recently fallen out of favor with Lampard selecting Rudiger in his last two Premier League games and Tuchel now following suit - and as he rises back into first-team consideration, Rudiger seems keen to take the high road when it comes to his relationship with Lampard.

"He took over the manager position last season when things were very complicated for all of us. But we managed to qualify for the Champions League together with him," Rudiger enthused.

"He has given so many young players a chance in the first team and they are still doing an amazing job. I’m pretty sure we will see Frank Lampard back again at another club very soon."

Tuchel's injection into the Chelsea squad was, some suggest, at least partly-guided by the board's desire to get more out of their German trio of Rudiger, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz - the latter two representing underperforming relics of Lampard's reign, but Rudiger says that he was committed to the club regardless of who was selecting the team.

"Just to make this clear: I would have stayed at Chelsea no matter the name of the manager,” he said.

"I was not always happy about the results, but I felt that I’m still an important part of the squad. After a difficult situation for me around autumn last year my playing time increased a lot. There was no reason to look for a new challenge for me, as I feel comfortable at the club and in London.

"I don’t think we Germans have an advantage right now, just because our coach is German. As the coach has already said, we all have to prove ourselves now and no one can be sure that he has a position in the starting line-up. The first steps with him have been quite good, but there’s still a long way to go."

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Rudiger, and Tuchel, will attempt to continue Chelsea's push for the Premier League top four when they take on London rivals Tottenham on Thursday - with Blues fans hoping that the club's new German DNA can help them get one over Jose Mourinho and finally start to deliver upon the countless million that Roman Abramovich has plunged into the club.