In his first four seasons at Chelsea, Cesc Fàbregas always played a key role. Even during the 2016-17 season, when the central midfield pairing of N’Golo Kanté and Nemanja Matic reigned supreme, he was still central to our Premier League title efforts as the 12th man, contributing with 5 goals and, most importantly, 12 assists in 29 appearances (16 from the bench).
But with new head coach Maurizio Sarri in town, Fàbregas’s role has diminished significantly. And unlike with Antonio Conte, the veteran midfielder has yet to convince the head coach to change his mind.
Premier League minutes are now a rare sight for Cesc, as he bides his time with the B-squad in Europa League and League Cup matches. With new midfield metronome Jorginho in town, Fàbregas has managed just 138 Premier League minutes in 1 start and 3 substitute appearances (and rather shockingly, Chelsea lost the one game he did start, away to Wolves).
“I know what my role is. Unfortunately it’s not the one I want. I’m keeping it professional as usual. I’m always trying to do my best, in the conditions, playing with the youngsters, playing with the first team, even though this year I still haven’t played with the full, full first team one game. But, I’m trying to do what I can. It’s a difficult situation for me, obviously.”
There is at least one easy solution to the difficult situation for Fàbregas. AC Milan appear more than willing to give him a big role, tempting him with a 2.5-year contract — one year more than what Chelsea might offer him, assuming we would offer him an extension in the first place (which may or may not be the case).
Still, just like two years ago when everyone was predicting the end of his Chelsea career because of Conte’s arrival, Cesc is not giving up.
“We’ll see what happens. It’s too early to talk about [leaving the club] now. I don’t give up. I’m not someone who you’ll see complaining or not giving his all because of that. I’ll always be there showing my face when needed and if the time comes the time comes.”
-Cesc Fàbregas; source: Evening Standard
Unless some unfortunate fate befalls Jorginho, Fàbregas’ prospects for regular minutes are diminishing at a steady rate. While there is certainly space (and need, according to Sarri) for him in the squad, it in only in a backup, rotational, part-time role.
Every player wants to play as much as he can of course, and that’s still the case for Cesc as well. And like the ultimate competitor that he is, he wants to play at the top level.
Fàbregas will turn 32 at the end of the season and he’s certainly not getting any younger. He’s got plenty of thinking and decision-making to do, though he’s pretty good at those things with, and without the ball, too.