According to the Times (via Newsweek), Cesc Fàbregas's status within the Chelsea squad might be at risk due to the tactical plans set to be put in place by Antonio Conte. The newspaper reports that Conte wants to use a 4-4-2 scheme in the forthcoming season, similar to how he set up his sides pprior to Juventus, and the Italian manager isn't sure whether the Spaniard fits the system due to a perceived lack of athleticism.
Fàbregas arrived from Barcelona at the start of the 2014-15 summer transfer window, and was a key part of the team in their Premier League and League Cup winning campaign during the season, finishing the year with 5 goals and 24 assists across 47 games. He struggled to reproduce his form in the first half of last season, but was able to provide good performances once manager Guus Hiddink took over for the departing José Mourinho in December last year. By the end of the 2015-16 season, he had accumulated 6 goals and 9 assists over 49 games.
Former boss Mourinho is believed to also have had his share of concerns on trusting Fàbregas with his duties in a midfield duo. The Times claims that the Portuguese preferred to use the 29-year-old in a three-midfield set-up, as the most attacking-minded player of the trio.
The player himself isn't willing to be relegated to a bench role, and might look for a way out of the club before the end of the current transfer window to get first-team football even though Conte reportedly admires his skill-set. His current contract with the team ends in 2019.
The Fàbregas conumdrum at Chelsea is a hard one to solve, as the collapse of Mourinho's system really exposed his flaws. He's still one of the few sources of creativity within the squad though, and replacing him might be a hard task unless Conte has a good plan to stray away from the team's over-reliance on a deep playmaker.
Chelsea's pre-season starts next week in Austria. Only then we will see whether or not Conte is really keen on making major changes in our tactics; or if those are just wild speculations from the media.