Andre Villas-Boas has dismissed reports linking Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard with a move to LA Galaxy, and insists the 33-year-old remains an important part of his first-team plans.
After being substituted early in the 3-0 Barclays Premier League victory over Newcastle, the England international was then forced to settle for a place on the bench in the midweek UEFA Champions League clash with Valencia.
The snub from the Portuguese tactician marked the first time since 2003 that Lampard has not been selected for the Blues to start a significant game when fit - leading to suggestions that he is being slowly fazed out of the first-team picture at Stamford Bridge.
Reported unrest in the Chelsea camp, as well as indications that Lampard has fallen out of favour with Villas-Boas in recent weeks, has prompted speculation the midfielder could make a move across the pond to ply his trade in Major League Soccer.
"I have no idea [where the rumours have come from]," said Villas-Boas. "There is nothing from our side.
"We have a lot of competence in the team. Everybody is challenging for their place. The conversation for Lamps is exactly the same for all of the players.
"All of them are competing to be the best, to be in the starting eleven. All of them deserve credit and he'll turn things around for sure."
Villas-Boas admits it is a different matter for Nicolas Anelka and Alex, who are no longer training with the first-team squad after handing in transfer requests, but insists reports of a training ground bust-up are wide of the mark.
"There is a story that is completely wrong in yesterday's Sun," he added. "If the informant got paid then please get the money back because it's completely wrong."
It remains uncertain at this stage where the duo will be playing in the New Year, and the Blues boss fully expects the speculation to rumble on.
"It's a different situation [to Lampard] because it's a transfer request that's been accepted," concluded Villas-Boas.
"[Alex] will be linked to everybody in the world because he's a top quality player, and Nico is the same. He's been linked to everybody. For sure it will continue until the transfer window opens."News Now - Sport News