Back in September, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte suggested that out-of-favour Cesc Fabregas will only start when he “deserves to play”. And, when you consider that the playmaker has started just five times under the new boss, the former Barcelona star is probably doing an awful lot of thinking about his future at the moment.
Fabregas has enjoyed mixed fortunes at Chelsea, and few Blues fans would argue that he’s ever fully settled, despite playing a key and usually incredibly impressive role in Chelsea’s most important title clashes.
For a player of Cesc’s ability, being resigned to a regular seat on the sub’s bench must be eternally irritating - particularly when he is arguably in his prime.
There’ll be plenty of clubs the world over that would jump at the chance of signing Fabregas, but Conte appears to be making his intentions for the player clear. If he remains out-of-favour for the next few matches, there’s a strong chance his Chelsea playing days will be cut short.
But should Chelsea hold onto the spaniard? Absolutely - here’s four reasons why:
1. His caps speak for themselves.
Fabregas has amassed over one-hundred caps for his native Spain and has played through the golden era of football for that team. That experience shouldn’t be discounted, particularly when it can be applied to a league which demands a mixture of youthful exuberance and solid, experienced minds.
Premier League teams need at least one or two players with serious international chops, and Fabregas is up there with the best of them.
2. Criticism levelled at him hasn’t always been fair.
Cesc has come in for a fair bit of stick recently, and while there have been one or two sub-par performances on the pitch, much of the finger-wagging for stuff elsewhere has been rather unfair.
The twenty-nine year old suffered quite badly in the press (and, presumably, the dressing room) following the departure of Mourinho, being viewed by many as a key figure in the Special One’s demise. In truth, only those closest to the goings-on behind the scenes will know the true story and, regardless, it’s the on-pitch stuff that really matters and Fabregas remains a fabulous player.
3. He’s always wanted to play.
Let’s not kid ourselves - the world of football is full of players of Fabregas’ age who have taken their foot off the gas a little. In fact, most top leagues are littered with players who seem quite happy to take a back seat on the bench while the money continues to roll in.
Cesc doesn’t give this impression, for he has always demonstrated a desire to play. When out of favour at Barcelona, he sought immediately for game time elsewhere, with rumours suggesting a return to Arsenal before he eventually settled on Chelsea.
This guy wants to play, and that’s a very dangerous thing indeed for Conte and co if they decide to continue with the silent treatment.
4. He rarely suffers injuries
Cast your mind back on Fabregas’ career and it’s hard to recall any persistent injuries that have taken him out of the game for significant periods of time.
That level of fitness and apparent immunity to serious injury makes him quite an asset in the modern game which regularly demonstrates how hard it is on the body of footballers.
The reasons above should be enough to convince Conte to make more use of Fabregas, but there’s still one overriding reason he should be a permanent fixture in the starting line-up: he’s a fabulous footballer. Few can match his eye for a perfect pass or ability to read the game.
The next few weeks will surely settle things, but let’s hope Antonio Conte and his backroom staff make the right decision.