Seeing Mata play in red was at first confusing. Seeing Benitez with a Chelsea badge on his blazer was at first very confusing. Seeing Torres play in blue
is to this day utterly baffling was weird. Nothing, however, could prepare us for the sight of a former Gunner and Blaugrana wearing a Chelsea jersey, promising to deliver for us at the Bridge. This, combined with the amount of creative players already in the squad or on loan, takes confusion to Wayne Rooney levels. To me, though, we shouldn’t be blinded by the unexpected nature of the transfer - the purchase of Cesc Fabregas should only be seen as a positive.
To start with, regardless of where or when he plays, this is a signing that strengthens our squad (as well as being a bit hilarious). While it seems the Man United still haven’t really replaced Keane or Scholes, Chelsea have filled a club-record-goal-scorer-sized hole within a few days, with a player of proven European and Premier League pedigree. To add to this, the Spaniard will count as a home-grown player due to his early years at Arsenal, which goes a long way towards rectifying what was a worrying issue in our squad. This set of Chelsea players ought to start delivering more titles as we grow into a new era - the signing of a proven, world class midfielder will only help us do so.
In terms of play, Fabregas brings a lot of qualities to the team that we simply did not have. Not since Ballack have we boasted a midfielder who can properly dictate the tempo of our play, and too many times last season did we find ourselves on individual creativity and brilliance. As such, with his excellent distribution from deep, the 27-year-old is the type of player we’ve longed for; it’s also hard to ignore the fact that he quite absurdly still holds the most Premier League assists since 2007. A repeat of his goal scoring tallies of the past few seasons would be welcome too. And how many times has there been an opportunity on the break, only for it to break down from a poor Ramires touch/pass? He’s no Zidane but you can count on Fabregas doing a hell of a lot more for our counterattacking transitions than what we’ve recently had on offer.
Fabregas’ ability, though, was never in doubt. Neither was the fact that a playmaking midfielder was as urgent a need in this window as a world class striker. The real question is whether Fabregas will fit into our team – an issue that indeed sent him out of the Nou Camp and went a long way to prevent him from resigning for Arsenal.
Well, why not? A Matic-Fabregas pivot would be physical, experienced, positionally aware, capable of controlling play and threatening going forward. Even if the former Gunner is incomplete defensively, being in a side with the league’s best defence and most defensively aware wingers (as well as being managed by Jose flipping Mourinho) negates much of the concern over cover or vulnerability. We’ve already seen that Oscar fades in and out of form, in part due to the sheer volume of game time he’s seen these past few years; if this remains the case next season then Fabregas is a brilliant option to have in the number 10 role. But that isn’t to say that Fabregas and Oscar couldn’t play together: with Oscar’s tendency to drop deep and the willingness of smaller teams to sit back, there’s definite scope for a midfield three of Oscar and Fabregas covered by Matic. Such versatility alone ensures the utility of Fabregas in our squad.
So to me, there’s little doubt that the signing of Cesc Fabregas will prove to be a good move. The European and World champion brings talent, experience and tactical flexibility to a squad that should at this stage be aiming for nothing less than a title. In my eyes, this group is still two strikers, a midfielder and a fullback away from being complete, but the money made from transfers, wage reduction and TV revenues ensures that we can still afford to spend heavily on these positions, without having any significant concerns over FFP books. As such, we should only see the signing of a world class player at a knocked down fee as a positive, as confusing or conflicting as it may seem.
Mobeen, 17 years old, first-time contributor, long-time reader. Avid Chelsea supporter since the age of 7 (or history-lacking glory hunter since 2004).