As things currently stand, we will lose two players who have been key to Chelsea’s efforts in winning trophies over the past 5-6 years. Both Gary Cahill and Cesc Fàbregas are in the final year of their contracts. Chelsea have not offered either player any extension just yet, with Cahill making noise about leaving in January and Fàbregas confirming that he hasn’t talked to anyone at the club about it.
However, unlike Cahill (though he recently hinted at possibly changing his mind, too), Cesc’s primary aim is to stay longer. He intends to accomplish this exactly how he accomplished it two years ago under Conte, by convincing the manager on the training ground and then in matches.
“I’m very open about [wanting a new contract]. To be the honest, the club has not said anything.”
“At the end of the day, I have eight months left and at the moment I’m gone. But I’d love to stay at the club. I’ve been very happy for the last four years and a half, we’ve had great success, won many things. I think I have a good understanding with the fans and players. I feel I still have a lot of football left in me, but it is now up to the club.”
In his 600+ professional appearances, in a career stretching back to when he was just 16 at Arsenal, Fàbregas has become renowned for his creativity, vision, and passing, while also adding a few goals with timely runs and long shots. In fact, he has five seasons with 10+ goals to his name, though three of those came at Barcelona where he generally played further forward than in England.
When he returned to the Premier League, Mourinho tasked him with breaking down packed defenses and parked buses, which Chelsea couldn’t deal with effectively the season before. As The Man With The Magic Hat, Fàbregas struck up an excellent partnership with Diego Costa and they led Chelsea to a title in 2014-15. Two years later Fàbregas was key once again, this time as the game-changing 12th man off the bench, as Conte waltzed to a title. With a background of Arsenal and Barcelona, Cesc was not considered a good fit for either one of Chelsea’s last two title-winners. And yet he made it work.
Now with pass-happy Sarri in town, whose ideals align much closer with Guardiola or Wenger, Fàbregas surely feels even more at home.
“I like it, everything goes through me. This is what I like. I feel sensations under Sarri that I never thought I would feel again. To be honest, touching the ball 100 times, all the play going through me or Jorginho is a very important role. I’m learning it, I’m very passionate about it as it’s very interesting.
“The way [Sarri] sees football is something that maybe in the future if I become a coach I think I’ll do something very similar to what he does. It’s what I like and how I see football. I’m learning a lot from him, it’s really interesting how he works and I’m really looking forward to working for a long time with him.
“I wish he came a bit earlier to be honest. It’s a little bit late now in my career. Definitely I’m very happy with him.”
Fàbregas featured regularly in preseason, but the arrival of Mateo Kovačić, the return of N’Golo Kanté from post-World Cup holiday, and a very poorly timed mystery knee injury dropped him off the radar for the first month of the season.
But now he’s back, ready to catch up, and raring to go. Unlike in preseason, when he gamely tried to play as more of a box-to-box midfielder, he’s now playing as the direct backup to Jorginho, conducting the orchestra of Sarrismo, and is loving every minute he gets to try to impress.
“I just came back from a difficult injury, I’m still sometimes feeling it a little bit.”
“I felt I could have helped in the West Ham game and Liverpool in different types of things but the manager tried another option and I respect that.”
“It is difficult to be sitting there and not helping the team when you know you could add something. This is part of the game, it’s still early for me. For me, this is pre-season, I’ve only been with the team for two weeks after seven or eight weeks out so it’s just there, it’s my second game in this position and I feel really good.”
-Cesc Fàbregas; source: Goal
We could certainly do worse with backups and rotational options than Cesc. A one-year contract extension, the standard for players over 30 at Chelsea, is surely a wise move for all involved.