Cesc Fabregas joins Chelsea: But where will the Spanish maestro play for Jose Mourinho?
Fabregas was playing behind the striker for Barcelona but expect him to have a deeper role for the Blues - just like he did in his Arsenal days
Friday 13 June 2014
Chelsea announced the signing of their new £30m man from Barcelona yesterday, but some have questioned which position Cesc Fabregas will take up at Stamford Bridge.
In recent years for Barcelona and Spain he has been an integral attacking part of the attacking 4-3-3 formation both of those sides like to employ.
Most often used in a free role behind Lionel Messi or wide on the left, the 27-year-old contributed 42 goals and 48 assists in 151 games for the Catalan giants.
He has even operated as a False 9 on occasions for the national team, but his strength at Arsenal was always in a deeper role, dictating games.
This is where he will likely operate at Chelsea.
At Barcelona, there was no room for him in a midfield three that was packed with quality. Just like Javier Mascherano became a centre-back because he couldn't dislodge Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fabregas had to move further forward because of the continued excellence of Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
While at Arsenal, Fabregas appeared to be the heir to their crown. He controlled football matches in a way that no Premier League midfielder has been able to before or since, bending and shaping entire games to his will.
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Barcelona bought him to become the eventual replacement for Xavi, but the midfielder, now 34, is still not willing to hand over the reigns.
When Fabregas arrived in 2011 he knew he would have to be patient in a team that was busy dominating the world with their brand of tiki-taka, but £25m signings must play and so Fabregas was forced out of position. Even Iniesta has been shunted out on the left on occasions to accommodate the array of attacking talents at the Nou Camp. Fabregas couldn't dislodge Xavi from his favoured deep position
Plainly, Fabregas was not prepared to wait any longer. He found himself starting fewer matches last year than he had done in his previous two seasons, as Neymar was also added to the squad.
He made 28 of his appearances for Barcelona from the substitutes bench and that, coupled with playing out of his favoured position led to unrest.
But Barcelona's loss is Chelsea's gain; the Blues have lacked what Fabregas offers for a long time.
In fact the lack of true quality in midfield arguably cost the Blues last season's Premier League title, with Mourinho's team struggling to create chances on their way to crucial defeats against Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Sunderland and a draw at home to Norwich. The Frank Lampard era has come to an end at Chelsea
Some of that blame can be laid at the feet of misfiring strikers, but the inability of Chelsea to truly dominate games was all to apparent.
Since Michael Ballack left in 2010 and with Frank Lampard's ability to control games decreasing on a yearly basis, the Blues have lacked true quality in the centre of the park.
Ramires has become a true favourite among Chelsea supporters for his energy, pace and ability to score vital goals, but few would call him anything more than average in possession. John Obi Mikel is a calming presence, but he is too slow in possession and too willing to pass sideways or backwards. Fabregas will form a partnership with Nemanja Matic in central midfield
Injuries ruined Michael Essien's career but even at his rampaging best his game was all brawn over beauty.
Roman Abramovic appointed Mourinho with the task of making Chelsea a more attractive team to watch. Fabregas represents the next step in this remodelling of a club that still bears the marks of his first spell in charge.
The sale of Juan Mata still remains an odd one giving his quality on the ball, but the £42.5m raised from his sale to Manchester United has been reinvested and Chelsea should be a stronger team next season because of it.
Nemanja Matic's arrival in January was the first step to changing the culture at Chelsea. The tall Serbian marrying exquisite technique with a physically imposing stature that allowed Chelsea to dominate against Manchester City and Liverpool. Jose Mourino is building a new look side at Stamford Bridge
Mourinho has plenty of options in the positions were Fabregas has been plying his trade the last three years. Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian and Andre Schurrle will battle for the three places behind £35m recruit Diego Costa.
Fabregas has been brought to the club to sit alongside Matic.
The Frank Lampard era is over at Stamford Bridge, the Cesc Fabregas one is about to begin.
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