6 January 2019

'Fabregas Changed English Football'  (Sky Sports)

Cesc FabregasThe Sunday Supplement panel paid tribute to Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas, who is expected to end his career in English football by joining Monaco.

Fabregas will fly to the South of France on Sunday to hold talks with the Ligue 1 club, according to Sky sources.

The 31-year-old has struggled for regular first-team opportunities this season under Maurizio Sarri, playing just six games in the Premier League, five coming as a substitute.

The Spain international captained Chelsea to a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup on Saturday, and the midfielder appeared to wave goodbye to Blues supporters when substituted in the closing stages of the match.

So, after eight years at Arsenal and five with Chelsea, how will Fabregas be remembered in this country?

'Changed English football' (Rob Draper, chief football writer, Mail on Sunday)

One of my favourite players to watch and he changed English football in two ways: Arsenal spotted him at Barcelona and realised he was running out of contract. They then brought him over and that then opened the floodgates - all the clubs, when he came in, thought we have go to Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Most of them were failures and because Fabregas was so good, everyone thought for about 10 years that was the model - go and sign up all the Barcelona players at 16 and that influenced Premier League recruitment for about 10 years. And it took about 10 years for people to realise that it was Fabregas who was special and not the model that works!

Secondly, 15 years ago we were all talking about how football was changing towards power and big midfielders, Patrick Vieira was the prototype. And he came along and opened the door to English football to that type of player, even before Pep Guardiola came along and changed us, as Fabregas and Arsene Wenger were doing that 10 years ago.

'One of the great Premier League midfield generals' (Jonathan Liew, chief sports writer, Independent)

He is one of the greats. He is probably the best player of Arsenal's Emirates stadium era because of the way he almost singlehandedly took that 'Invincibles' team that got broken up and for three or four seasons, he was the heartbeat of that side.

And because he is 31 now, people forget just how startling it was for an 18, 19-year-old kid to be running a Premier League midfield. He was quicker than people remember, he was dynamic, he could pass and tackle, he was one of the great Premier League midfield generals of that era. It was really astonishing for someone his age.

When he came back from Barcelona, he was never quite the same player - he won a couple of Premier Leagues with Chelsea, but not as a pivotal player. And when we remember Fabregas, it will be that 2006-10 period when he was genuinely a player who could challenge to be one of the best in his position.

'A special player from an English perspective' (James Ducker, northern football correspondent, Telegraph)

He was obviously a lovely, creative ball player, but what I liked about him was he could play central midfield and could handle the physicality that comes with it and was not afraid to put a foot in and do some of the dirty stuff.

To truly thrive in that area of the pitch for the best teams you need that and he was a precursor to the David Silva-type player we have now.

He was 16 when he made his Arsenal debut - 16 into central midfield in the Premier League and looking resolutely at home very quickly. Then by 18, 19 he was a major influence and there are very few players who have done that.

That takes some doing and that, for me, will always make him a special player from an English perspective.

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