Lampard quashes talks of Luiz rift before shock Arsenal move

AFP , Friday 9 Aug 2019

Chelsea's manager Frank Lampard speaks at a media conference at the teams training ground in Cobham, England, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019 AP

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard insists there was no rift with David Luiz after claims the Brazil defender went on strike before his shock move to Arsenal.

Luiz joined Arsenal in an £8 million ($7.25 million) deal on Thursday after reportedly falling out with Lampard over what he perceived as a diminished role in the team.

The 32-year-old was said to have become a disruptive influence at Chelsea's Cobham base and did not train with the team on Wednesday before completing his switch to London rivals Arsenal on deadline day.

Lampard was adamant he took the decision for Luiz to miss training and made it clear the pair had spoken amicably before agreeing the centre-back should leave.

"We had some conversations over the last week, honest conversations because I know David well. And I think the conclusion of that was that he moved on," Lampard told reporters on Friday.

"There certainly wasn't any strikes. And in terms of fall-outs, no, there weren't. There were honest conversations.

"The day that David didn't train was a decision that I made because we were in the middle of this where we were talking and it was quite clear which way it was going."

- Necessary evil -

Luiz spent six-and-a-half seasons with Chelsea across two spells, winning the Premier League and Champions League while playing alongside Blues legend Lampard.

The former Derby boss was believed to have told Luiz -- who was a regular in their Europa League-winning side last term -- he would have to fight for his place, with Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma having been picked for Chelsea's final pre-season friendly.

Lampard, who was unable to strengthen his squad during the transfer window because of Chelsea's transfer ban, accepts allowing players to join Premier League rivals like Arsenal is sometimes a necessary evil.

"I don't think you can always dictate where a player goes, it depends on the situation. This happened close to the deadline day," Lampard said.

"At that point, David was pretty clear at what he wanted, that Arsenal was the club.

"Of course he is a good player, he has gone to a competitor, it's happened before, it will happen again."

Lampard begins his Chelsea reign -- in just his second year in management -- with an intriguing trip to Manchester United on Sunday.

The 41-year-old, who will make a late call on N'Golo Kante's knee problem, said Blues winger Callum Hudson-Odoi is back in training following last season's Achilles tendon injury.

England winger Hudson-Odoi has entered the final 12 months of his contract and, while Lampard wants the 18-year-old to stay in west London, he says there has been no progress on a potential new deal.

"No, on Callum there's not. The clubs are talking. We hope Callum stays, simple as that," Lampard said.

"The better news is that he's working hard on his fitness and is back out on the pitch."

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