Imagine being at the centre of transfer rumours for two years, staying focussed and then being decisive to win the Premier League? It’s what has happened to Cesc Fabregas in Antonio Conte’s Chelsea.
The former Arsenal skipper was brought to Stamford Bridge by José Mourinho, and was crucial in winning the title in 2015. But after last season’s flop, Fabregas was linked with a move to several clubs throughout the summer and the January transfer windows, only to keep his mind set on Chelsea and contributing to (almost…) another title, becoming Conte’s secret weapon.
The Spaniard was never a starter for Conte, who’s preferred midfield duo this season – ever since he crystallised the 3-4-3 system as the main one – is composed by N’Golo Kanté holding, with Nemanja Matic next to him with more freedom. Fabregas was the first sub very often, but his technical superiority over the other two midfielders has made him more than that: a player Conte can use to get out of blocked games, or start him when more quality is needed.
Against Middlesbrough Fabregas was at his best, delivering two assists and providing a man of the match performance. It was only his 26th Premier League game this season, just 11 of which from the start. His assists tally is at 11 this year, his sixth season in the Premier League where he reaches double digits.
A unique midfielder, especially when put in the best conditions to deliver. And with someone like Conte, able to get the best out of his players, Cesc can only develop further. For example in his goals tally: just 4 this year, albeit a decisive one against Sunderland. Either way, Cesc’s become increasingly more important to this Blues side.
Similarly to Chelsea, Fabregas grew throughout the season, as Conte points out: “Cesc is one of the best at the centre of our season,” Conte said. Through hard work he improved a lot and he played in every game. I’m pleased for him because I saw he put himself in this team in every moment whether he played or not. He deserves this. This development of Cesc is ours.”
A development that will see him be at the centre of more transfer gossip in the upcoming months, but will also put him in a strong position at the club. Rumour has it Cesc could take over from John Terry and become captain from the 2017/18 season. From being ‘only’ a secret weapon to the skipper, it’s a quick jump.