Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard has labelled midfielder Ross Barkley ‘naïve’ after a disagreement with a taxi driver required police intervention.
The Blues are preparing to face Lille in a crunch Champions League clash - having lost their opening group game to Valencia - but their preparation has been disrupted after Barkley hit the headlines after a night out on Sunday.
A tabloid report alleged that Barkley appeared to be drunk and was in an argument with a taxi driver over money, having also dropped chips on the floor of the vehicle. It is said that police officers then arrived, escorting the footballer to a cash machine so he could pay the driver.
Quizzed over the issue ahead of Chelsea’s midweek game in France, Lampard looked to close the matter and insisted Barkley hadn’t done anything serious, although he admitted it was ‘naïve’ of his player to have got himself into the avoidable situation.
“In terms of permission I don’t expect to be asked for that. He hasn’t committed a crime, apart from eating chips in a taxi,” the Chelsea boss said, as quoted by BBC Sport.
“I feel for the cabbie and I think [Barkley] has been naive to be out before a Champions League game - he has admitted that," added Lampard. "I like Ross, I have had no problem with him and he has admitted he made a mistake. I will take that at face value and move on.”
The 25-year-old will be looking to put the incident behind him as Chelsea look to get themselves back on track in their bid to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages. Barkley himself was partially responsible for the Valencia defeat after missing an opportunity to equalise when his late penalty clipped the crossbar and went over.
The spot-kick became a source of controversy as it had looked as though both Jorginho and Willian expected to take it. Lampard explained away the whole thing by insisting that Barkley, who had only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes when the kick was awarded, is the team's designated penalty taker whenever is in the pitch.
However, it was Jorginho who stepped up to convert from the spot during Chelsea’s Premier League win over Brighton on Saturday, even though Barkley was on the pitch at the time.