The early part of Antonio Conte’s reign as Chelsea boss has strongly suggested that Cesc Fabregas isn’t a key part of the 47-year-old Italian manager’s plans at Stamford Bridge.
The midfield maestro is yet to start a Premier League game this season, playing just 12 minutes so far, and to make matters worse, he was left out of the Spain squad by their new manager Julen Lopetegui.
Before the transfer window closed, he responded to speculation surrounding his future (on Twitter), insisting that Conte didn’t tell him he could leave the club and the pair have a good relationship.
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Fabregas, who has won the World Cup, two European Championships, La Liga and the Premier League in his glittering career, also said that he will continue to fight and give his best whenever he’s called upon.
It looks as though Fabregas has a major fight on his hands to regain his place in Chelsea’s starting XI, but is there any light at the end of the tunnel for the Spaniard?
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What does Fabregas lack?
As technically gifted as Fabregas is, he isn’t the quickest of players and for much of last season he struggled to cope with the defensive responsibilities of a central midfielder.
Conte demands high intensity and tactical awareness from his midfield men, so it came as no surprise when Chelsea signed the all-action N’Golo Kante. The little Frenchman is a workhorse and he never stops running, but he’s also strong, aggressive, and brilliant at making tackles and interceptions.
Conte’s Chelsea midfield
So far at Chelsea, Conte’s preferred midfield combination has been Kante alongside Nemanja Matic with Oscar in a more advanced role, leaving Fabregas forced to watch on from the sidelines.
John Obi Mikel’s return from Olympic duty will only add to the competition for places in the middle of the park, whilst the club also have a lot of talented young midfielders.
Marco van Ginkel, Nathaniel Chalobah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek all remained at Stamford Bridge over the summer and are likely to be given more opportunities as they look to break into the first-team.
Where should Cesc play under Conte?
Fabregas can produce quality in the final third of the pitch, he possesses creativity and exceptional vision, and he isn’t afraid to shoot. For those reasons, he could be effectively deployed in a number ten role.
However, with his stellar passing range and classy composure on the ball, he could also excel as a deep-lying playmaker – much like Italian legend Andrea Pirlo did under Conte at Juventus.
From this position, the Spanish midfielder would able to dictate the tempo of games and he would also get more time and space on the ball to spray passes all over the pitch.
In his first year at Chelsea, Fabregas struck up a fantastic understanding with compatriot Diego Costa and provided 18 assists, including some pinpoint long-range through balls, as the Blues won the title.
At 29, Fabregas is about to enter the peak years of his career, but since he didn’t leave Chelsea in the transfer window, he could end up being a bit part player this season.
That said, with the Chelsea squad blessed with many midfield options, he must be willing to adapt his game in order to force Conte to make him a regular starter.
Can Fabregas get back into Chelsea's starting XI? Leave YOUR opinion in the comments box below!