Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas has said that he’s finding life at Stamford Bridge ‘tough’ under new head coach Antonio Conte.
The Spaniard is yet to start a game for the Blues in the Premier League, though he has started both EFL Cup games and scored two goals in extra time at The King Power Stadium on Tuesday night to help Chelsea reach the last sixteen. It’s something that he’s been struggling to come to terms with. He said, “It’s a new situation for me in my career after 13 years of basically playing all the time for my club and national team. And it’s been tough – I’m not going to deny it. But the last thing I will do is complain or put my hands up and give in”.
Fabregas admits that there’s an extent to which it has caused him to abandon any malaise that might have set him and now he’s having to re-double his efforts to get Conte’s attention. He said, “Something from inside is coming out stronger than ever and I just feel like a little boy in training trying to win my spot back as I used to do at Arsenal when I was 16. Hopefully I will achieve it again”.
The 29-year-old knows that Conte has the ultimate power at Stamford Bridge and that it is his job as a player to impress the coach and persuade him that he should be in the starting XI. Conte’s experience as the manager of the Italian national side as well as Juventus means that he’s earned the respect of his players. Fabregas, “My coach deserves respect because I know he wants to win and if he doesn’t play me there is always a reason. Hopefully I can open his eyes and make him see that I deserve to play”.
Chelsea head to The Emirates at the weekend where they will face Fabregas’ former club Arsenal. The midfielder says that he has had plenty of conversations with Conte and that the new boss has told him what he wants from his players in the middle of the pitch. He said, “He speaks a lot. He spoke to me a few times as well. He wants the midfielders to be very complete. To be physically strong”.
Fabregas’ strength has always been in creating rather than being destructive, though he’s also been known to engage in the dark arts when necessary. Now he’s trying to ensure that he can offer Chelsea defensive protection as much as the ability to go on the attack, as that is what Conte wants from his midfield. He said, “We are training very hard. Maybe I’m a bit more the playmaker, creative going forward and he wants me to be a little bit more stable and compact in defence”.
Fabregas made 303 appearances for the Gunners in all competitions and scored 57 goals. 212 of those appearances came in the league, as did 35 of the goals. In 2011 he moved to Barcelona for €29 million with an additional €5 million depending on certain factors. He made 151 appearances for the Catalan giants and scored 42 goals before making a transfer to West London for a fee believed to be in the region of €33 million. To date he has scored thirteen goals in 100 appearances in all competitions for the Blues.