Not for the first time in his Chelsea career, Cesc Fabregas finds himself with a bit of a challenge. Injured and dropped from the first-choice starting lineup — not necessarily in that order — Fabregas needs to convince the new head coach of his qualities if he is to play any decent amount of minutes.
It’s a situation not all that dissimilar to the one he found himself in two years ago, when Antonio Conte first turned up at Cobham. Written off as not a “Conte-type” player, Fabregas got himself fit, kept his head down, redoubled his efforts in training, and worked his way back into the coach’s reckoning. He was Chelsea’s 12th man that season (or 13th, depending on Willian’s mood) and only grew in importance from there as the rest of the Chelsea midfield was weakened around him for Conte’s second season.
But the fight might be tougher this time around, even if Sarri’s proactive, pass-first style is seemingly a great fit for Cesc. Unfortunately for him, his ideal position is where Jorginho plays and even N’Golo Kante was moved around to accommodate that. While Fabregas can be an able deputy, as he showed last week against Liverpool in the League Cup, if we know anything about Cesc, it’s that he won’t be satisfied with just being a backup.
So it’s perhaps no surprise that according to Goal’s Nizaar Kinsella, Fabregas is “keen to fight for a spot”, which would carry the added benefit of potentially winning a new contract as well. His current contract runs at the end of the season. At 31 years of age, he would not be offered anything more than a one-year extension, but he might still prefer that over moving from London. That said, he’s also “working on contingency plans” in case that doesn’t happen.
Under Mourinho, Fabregas proved himself an unlikely key player to a Premier League title. Two years later, under Conte, he proved himself to be unlikely game-changer, often off the bench late in games, to a second Premier League title. It’s not yet clear what his best role under Sarri might be, but with a long season and tons of matches ahead of us, we could certainly use his qualities still.