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Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger ‘clashed with Cesar Azpilicueta on more than one occasion’

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta reportedly clashed with out-of-favour team-mate Antonio Rudiger ‘on more than one occasion’ as tensions flared between players prior to the sacking of Frank Lampard.

Lampard was dramatically sacked by the Blues on Monday after an alarming run of form has left them ninth in the Premier League table, 11 points off league leaders Manchester United.

The former Chelsea captain was backed to the tune of £230million in last summer’s transfer market but has struggled to maximise his new assets with a squad that, according to the Daily Telegraph, became fractured at their Cobham training base.

Antonio Rudiger was reportedly frustrated at droppig down the pecking order under Frank Lampard

Antonio Rudiger was reportedly frustrated at droppig down the pecking order under Frank Lampard

Cesar Azpilicueta attempted to ease issues between team-mates and is said to have clashed with Rudiger

Cesar Azpilicueta attempted to ease issues between team-mates and is said to have clashed with Rudiger

Antonio Rudiger (left) is reported to have clashed with Cesar Azpilicueta (right) in training 

Lampard spent £230million in the summer but was left with a bloated squad of internationals

Lampard spent £230million in the summer but was left with a bloated squad of internationals

Lampard spent £230million in the summer but was left with a bloated squad of internationals

One of Lampard’s biggest issues was his inability to trim his squad to make room for new signings Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell, Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva. 

The bloated squad saw Rudiger, Marcos Alonso and Jorginho given a stay of execution despite all three being players Lampard wanted to offload.

All three are believed to have ’caused issues’ for the Chelsea boss prior to his sacking. 

Rudiger ‘was relegated down to fifth-choice centre-back’, according to the report,  and having been unable to secure the German’s exit, Lampard had no choice but to keep him around the first-team group.

The GermanY international (right) is claimed to have clashed 'on more than one occasion' with Azpilicueta (middle) in the run-up to Lampard's dramatic sacking by Chelsea on Monday

The GermanY international (right) is claimed to have clashed 'on more than one occasion' with Azpilicueta (middle) in the run-up to Lampard's dramatic sacking by Chelsea on Monday

The GermanY international (right) is claimed to have clashed ‘on more than one occasion’ with Azpilicueta (middle) in the run-up to Lampard’s dramatic sacking by Chelsea on Monday 

Lampard left him out of matchday squads entirely on a number of occasions, instead preferring to partner new signing Silva with youngster Kurt Zouma. 

That now appears to have fractured team morale with Rudiger reported to have ‘clashed’ with captain Cesar Azpilicueta on more than one occasion on the training ground. 

Azpilicueta as captain ‘attempted to ease tensions’ between players with academy stars also said to have been upset at their treatment amid claims of favouritism under the now-departed Lampard. 

Lampard showed a willingness during his reign to place faith in academy graduates and faced accusations across social media of favouritism. The Telegraph’s report claims those extended to the first-team squad with so many fighting for places. 

Rudiger was restored to the starting XI for Lampard’s final two league games as boss – a narrow win at Fulham and then defeat at Leicester – but it proved too little, too late for Lampard. 

Rudiger (left) remained at the club after failing to secure a move away and got back in the side

Rudiger (left) remained at the club after failing to secure a move away and got back in the side

Rudiger (left) remained at the club after failing to secure a move away and got back in the side

He led Chelsea to a 3-1 win over Luton Town in the FA Cup on Sunday in what was his final game in charge.

Owner Roman Abramovich – as revealed by Sportsmail on Thursday – had grown disgruntled at how his expensively assembled team were underperforming and Lampard has now paid the price. 

Lampard has the worst points-per-game ratio of any manager in the Abramovich era, a statistic that did not go unnoticed. 

The club are looking to replace Lampard as quickly as possible and have already opened up talks with former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel about taking the position.  

On Monday, Abramovich took the unprecedented step of commenting on the decision to sack Lampard – a man who won 11 major trophies with the club – the first time he has done so when dismissing a manager.

Owner Roman Abramovich had become exasperated at the major drop off in results

Owner Roman Abramovich had become exasperated at the major drop off in results

Owner Roman Abramovich had become exasperated at the major drop off in results

‘This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him,’ he said.

‘He is a man of great integrity and has the highest of work ethics. However, under current circumstances we believe it is best to change managers.

‘On behalf of everyone at the club, the board and personally, I would like to thank Frank for his work as head coach and wish him every success in the future. 

‘He is an important icon of this great club and his status here remains undiminished. He will always be warmly welcomed back at Stamford Bridge.’

Lampard’s sacking comes amidst a miserable run that has seen Chelsea win just two of their previous eight Premier League games.

Source: Daily

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