Eyebrows were raised when Chelsea surprisingly leapt in to steal the signing of former Premier League and Arsenal star, Cesc Fabregas. Barcelona are going through a transitional period at the moment and have let stars like Fabregas leave in order to acquire the bulk of the finance to bring Luis Suarez to their ranks. The Gunners had first refusal on Fabregas but opted not to take back the fan favourite, instead choosing to spend the money on Chile’s Alexis Sanchez. Jose Mourinho saw the opening to swoop in and capture the Spanish international for around £30 million. For such a hefty fee, you cannot help but think, was it a wise move?
Fabregas is likely to slot in next to Matic, within centre of midfield for Chelsea. Having played in a similar sort of role for Arsenal, this position should be familiar territory for the former Barcelona man. Matic will be the defensive man in the middle which will give Fabregas the freedom to join the attack from time to time.
However, the question is, does Fabregas still possess the ability to play the box-to-box role as efficiently as he has done in the past. Chelsea will need an extra man in the centre to join in with the forward play but also tracking back frequently to help out the defence. It is one of the most demanding roles in football which Fabregas has shown that he can flourish within, but can he do it again?
With Barcelona, Fabregas was rarely played in his favourable central midfield position, with those roles normally taken up by the classy duo of Xavi and Iniesta. This meant that the Spain international was deployed in a more advance role, often playing just behind the striker or as a false number 9. He was also used in the same position in Euro 2012 for Spain as they won the competition for the second time in a row.
Although it can be argued that he does have an impact playing further up the field, it is largely agreed that Fabregas has more of an influence playing in centre midfield, where he can dictate and with him likely to be reverted back to this role, it could help him produce his best football to date.
Most people would agree that Fabregas was one of those most gifted players in the league when he was on top form for Arsenal. He was their best player by a country mile and they largely depended on him for the team’s creative flair. After making his breakthrough in the 2004-2005 season, Fabregas went onto make 212 appearances for Arsenal in the league (303 overall). Creativity and creating chances was undoubtedly his forte and was in double figures for assists for five years in a row from 2006 onwards. His best goal scoring return came in 2009/2010 when he notched 15 goals and 13 assists, helping the Gunners finish third in that season.
This obviously made him hot property, and by the end of the 2010/2011 season, the lure of playing for his hometown club Barcelona was too tempting to turn down. However, many at the Catalan club have brandished his time three year stint at Barcelona a failure for not produced at the level which was expected of him when making the move.
This could be down to a number of factors, first of which was mentioned before in terms of his positioning. Playing further up the field nullified his ability to play long passes and building up attacks from the middle of the pitch.
The other main reason could be to do with the calibre of players he was playing with. The likes of Iniesta, Xavi and Messi were far better than the crop he was playing with at Arsenal and maybe gave him less of a chance to showcase his true ability. Fabregas knew that he was the main architect of Arsenal’s good play whilst at the Gunners but found himself with other teammates who were on higher level in Spain. Xavi in particular was the Fabregas of Barcelona at the time and to play in the same team as him meant that Cesc had to take a backseat and let the established midfielder take his favoured role.
That being said, his stats are actually very respectable from his time at the Spanish giants. His assist tally again was reading double figures in the league for all three years at Barcelona and managed to score 28 goals in the league over that period (42 goals overall).
Can Cesc produce his best?
Fabregas’s statistics show that he is still capable of producing on a consistent basis which makes him a valuable player to any team. However, with the quality that Chelsea possess in midfield, was Cesc a necessary purchase, or just a luxury acquisition?
With already Matic, Ramires, Hazard, Willian, Schurrle and Salah already in their rank, we’ll have to wait and see whether the £30 million spent on Fabregas will be worth it or whether he will disappoint like another Spanish player who moved to Stamford Bridge for a large sum of money.