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Monaco-bound Fàbregas set for final Chelsea farewell in Saturday’s FA Cup match

Will be his 501st and final appearance in English football

Chelsea FC v Southampton FC - Premier League

At the end of Chelsea’s 0-0 draw against Southampton on Wednesday, Cesc Fàbregas made it a point to complete a (half-)lap of honor around the northern end of Stamford Bridge, clapping the fans in both tiers of the Matthew Harding Stand, turning the disgruntled boos at Chelsea’s overall performance into warm applause for the midfielder’s 4.5 years of service to the club.

It may not have been an official goodbye, but it certainly felt like it.

He’s expected to join AS Monaco this month in a €10m deal, signing a 3.5-year contract to try to help Thierry Henry guide the club out of the relegation zone.

Fàbregas will however have a chance to leave the club on a better note than the disappointment of Wednesday’s scoreless draw. He’s in line to face Nottingham Forest on Saturday, as Chelsea begin this season’s FA Cup campaign with a third round contest at Stamford Bridge.

Some reports speculate that Fàbregas’s departure could be delayed even further, as he will leave Sarri without a direct backup to lynchpin Jorginho. CalcioMercato claim, for example, that the transfer won’t happen until next week, at the earliest. Either way, the 31-year-old is heading for the exit door.

Fabregas joined Chelsea back in 2014-15 alongside fellow La Liga imports Diego Costa, Filipe Luis and Thibaut Courtois. Since then, he has played a vital role in Chelsea’s two title-winning seasons, first as a guaranteed starter under Mourinho in 2014-15 and then as a super substitute under Conte in 2016-17.

Unfortunately, Fabregas has not been able to establish himself in the new regime under Maurizio Sarri, having only played 890 minutes across all competitions, 715 minutes of which have come in Europa League, League Cup and Community Shield.

However, considering our recent injury crisis and the fact that, except Jorginho, Fàbregas is the only player we have who can play the regista role successfully, we need to find his replacement, and quickly.

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