Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger has denied accusations that he was 'anti-Frank Lampard' while the former Blues boss was in the dugout at Stamford Bridge.
There were rumours that the German international and Lampard had a falling out in the summer after Rudiger lost his place in the starting XI, prompting speculation of a move away from Stamford Bridge to Paris Saint-Germain.
Of the 84 matches that Lampard oversaw as Chelsea manager, Rudiger appeared in just 35. But the centre-back claims that there was never any bad blood between the two.
Speaking to SportBILD (via sportwitness.co.uk), Rudiger said: “If I was so anti-Lampard, why would I have been on the pitch under him in his last games? It doesn’t make sense.
"Frank Lampard is very well respected in the club and by the fans. The perception that I was against the coach has more to do with the time around the start of the season when I wasn’t in the squad.”
Rudiger was absent from Lampard's squad at the start of the campaign, only making his first Premier League appearance of the season in late November. His omission led to murmurs that then-PSG boss Thomas Tuchel was interested in taking him to the French capital.
Rudiger revealed: "It’s no secret that there were talks with PSG. The period before the end of the transfer window was simply very short. It went back and forth. In the end, it didn’t work out; Chelsea wanted to keep me, and I didn’t want to leave London with every penny.
"We were already at the end of the transfer period, there were only a few days left. My thoughts were: I’ll stay here and fight for my place. I certainly thought about it when I wasn’t in the squad. But everybody knows: we are in a pandemic, not all clubs are so liquid at the moment.
"I wanted to stay here, even though I had offers. Shortly after Christmas, I was regularly called up again. For the winter transfer period, there was no question of a move. I wanted to fight my way through.”
The German eventually won his place back in the side, starting four of Lampard's last six games in charge. And the centre-back has continued to feature for Chelsea since the arrival of long-term admirer Tuchel, missing just 45 minutes of football in all competitions - starting all five Premier League fixtures.
The German defender will look to help his side to another win under Tuchel as Chelsea travel to struggling Southampton on Saturday afternoon.