Chelsea will be Sarri should Fabregas leave
Background photo: Vespa125125CFC, CC BY-SA 3.0
Reports say Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas is closing on a move to AS Monaco after struggling for game time under Maurizio Sarri. The 31-year-old started one Premier League game this term. Sarri considers Jorginho the go-to man when it comes to orchestrating play from the midfield's base. While the former Napoli man is first-choice, Sarri must not make the mistake of selling Fabregas.
The former Arsenal man isn't the same player he was some years ago but his talent, experience and winning mentality benefit the Chelsea dressing room. Thierry Henry, the current Monaco boss, understands and values that effect. It's why he wants his former teammate to come to the Stade Louis II.
A proper Arsenal man through and through, most Chelsea fans were sceptical when the club signed Cesc in 2014. Eight players including William Gallas, Nicolas Anelka and Petr Cech have played for both clubs in the Premier League era but all dealt with the tension of trading sides in the rivalry. Blues fans remembered Fabregas' role in the 2007 League Cup Final when he clashed with club stalwart, Frank Lampard.
Cesc quickly dispelled their fears, saying the right things at his unveiling and promising to help the club win the Premier League again, a trophy that had eluded the Stamford Bridgers for four years. At Arsenal, the Spaniard had gone without even longer.
He had an immediate impact at Stamford Bridge, creating an exquisite assist for Andre Schurrle in 2014/15's opening game of the 2014/15 season, also forming a telepathic understanding with fellow summer signing, Diego Costa. At 27, Cesc was at the peak of his career. At campaign's end, the stats justified the move. A league-high 18 assists brought a League Cup and Premier League title.
He has not hit the heights of that remarkable first season again. Nevertheless, he reveals his quality time and time again. He has been used mainly in the Europa League this term, still showing glimpses of his undoubted talent with his remarkable passing range.
Should the Blues sell him, which is understandable given he has only six months left on his contract, he leaves behind a gaping hole in the dressing room. Fabregas is a man who has won everything in football bar the Champions League. A World Cup and two-time Euro winner with Spain, he has also had considerable success in club football, winning trophies everywhere he has played [even Arsenal].
Although Chelsea now hope players like Cesar Azpilicueta and Eden Hazard can spearhead a new generation, the gap between it and the old guard must be bridged. Save for Gary Cahill, Fabregas might be the best candidate to play that role. First-team football is a price Maurizio Sarri can't pay, however. He must find a way to make Cesc feel more valuable, especially in the Premier League. Such players are hard to replace.
His evolved position as deep-lying play-maker promises he can still play at the highest level for at least 4 more years. Few Chelsea fans will forget the assist at Burnley, the goal away at QPR in his first season, his professionalism in Antonio Conte’s title-winning campaign and how he won back his place last season with sheer will and determination. Fairy tales don’t last forever but Fabregas’ page at Chelsea should not be turned just yet.