Opinion: The curtains appear to be closing on Fabregas’ Chelsea career

Fabregas’ move to Chelsea will be regarded as one of the most divisive transfers in Premier League history.

In the red communities of North London, a move to the Blues was a declaration of disassociation, the ultimate betrayal. However, by opting to become a Chelsea player, Cesc Fabregas has fulfilled his dream of becoming Premier League champion, twice.

When analysing the Spaniard’s start to life at Chelsea, it’s difficult to recall a midfielder that made such an immediate impact at a new club. During that inaugural season with the South West London side, Fabregas contributed towards 22 league goals in 34 appearances in England’s top-flight, scoring three and registering an astonishing tally of 19 assists. He was indispensable to a Chelsea team that emphatically won the title under Jose Mourinho’s guidance.

Two years later, his presence proved to be equally rewarding. In a campaign in which the Blues established a then-record total of victories (30) in a Premier League season, Fabregas contributed towards 17 league goals, scoring five and totalling 12 assists. If you couple those achievements with a League Cup and an FA Cup triumph, his career as a Blue has been a resounding success.

Although the Spain international has enjoyed tremendous success with his third club, his Chelsea career hasn’t been devoid of its difficulties. Having been portrayed as one of the deserters in the Blues’ woeful collapse in the 2015/16 season or having to work relentlessly to displace Nemanja Matic in Antonio Conte’s side, graft and self-belief have underpinned his career at Chelsea, and those qualities have seemingly been tested once more with the arrival of Maurizio Sarri.

Cesc Fabregas warming up before a Chelsea game

Theoretically, Cesc Fabregas’ playing style should supplement Sarri’s footballing vision. As a technically proficient midfielder, who flaunts unrivalled vision, and exquisite passing quality, Fabregas – on paper – should be the most qualified candidate to assume a role in the Italian’s midfield.

Despite amassing 49 appearances in all competitions last season, Fabregas is no longer considered as a starter for the club, following the summer arrivals of Jorginho and Kovacic.  The former is operating as the coordinator, the physical embodiment of Sarri’s footballing vision, and is arguably the most integral player in Chelsea’s newly developed system. Similarly, Kovacic provides tremendous dribbling quality and attacking impetus, while also contributing meaningfully in the defensive phase.

Without question, a quintessential Sarri midfield requires tremendous intensity and endurance, qualities that don’t particularly characterise Fabregas’ game.  This isn’t to suggest that Fabregas is ineffective in the new manager’s system, the 31-year-old effectively dictated proceedings away at Liverpool in the Carabao Cup.  Nonetheless, his involvement will mostly be restricted to cup competitions, as he has yet to feature in the league this season.

Despite revealing publicly his intentions to receive a new contract, it’s evident that Fabregas is Jorginho’s deputy, and the question surrounding the midfield maestro is whether he is content with playing the understudy?

A player of his experience and undeniable pedigree would be of incalculable use to most teams in world football, but one senses that his Chelsea career is drawing towards its conclusion. While admitting to wanting a new contract at the club, Fabregas has also disclosed that he doesn’t intend to retire with the Blues, and his current disposition could accelerate his future plans.

The Spaniard was mightily unfortunate having endured an injury in Chelsea’s Community Shield defeat that had sidelined him for the start of this season, yet it hasn’t contributed towards his current status within Maurizio Sarri’s squad.

Cesc Fabregas’ Chelsea career has been irrefutably triumphant, and the Spaniard will be remembered fondly on the streets of SW6. However, one senses that this could be his last season the iconic blue shirt.

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