Of all the (first-team) midfielders at Chelsea at the end of last season, the one looking least likely to leave was Cesc Fàbregas. Mikel, Matić, even Oscar all looked one foot out the door already. Other stalwarts like Ramires had long gone; the loanees and the youth were doing their usual non-impactful shuffle. Cesc meanwhile had rediscovered some semblance of form and was proving instrumental for both club and, later, for country.
But even as Chelsea's Nainggolan pursuit petered out, no moves away for any of the more likely trio seemed to be materializing. Sure, there were stray rumors, nonsense swap deals, and all the usual whispers that we've gotten used to (Oscar to Juventus, part six-thousand; Mikel to Turkey, part six-thousand and one), but nothing was solidifying in any meaningful way.
Perhaps we were just waiting for something on our side to solidify. The prospect of signing Kante suddenly looks semi-likely, while Conte's initial tactical plans are apparently set to be centered around just two midfielders rather than three. In a three-man midfield, Fàbregas's skills could readily translate into a Pirlo-esque, deep-lying playmaker role. In a two-man midfield, he'd be leaving us short-handed.
Our old friend Jose Mourinho could be swooping in with a solution, if the Mirror are to be believed, though he's is no hurry. Plus, he's got to wait to see if he has any money left over once they buy Paul Pogba.
On the other hand, linking a manager to players from his previous job is a time-honored rumor mill stratagem. It could just be Cesc's turn in the hot seat after Diego Costa and Nemanja Matić and probably others I'm forgetting at the moment.