Statistics and trophies offer you some thought of the impact Cesc Fabregas has made in English soccer, however he must be remembered as a pioneer in addition to an help machine after leaving Chelsea for Monaco.
Whenever I confronted Cesc, even when he was just an adolescent, I noticed him as a Barcelona player within the Premier League.
We are extra used to seeing that kind of midfielder in England now, with the likes of David Silva and Bernardo Silva at Manchester City, however when he arrived from Barca’s academy, Cesc was the first of his variety.
What the Silvas are doing now – protecting lots of floor and making issues occur – Fabregas was doing 15 years in the past in a 4-4-2 formation for Arsenal… and he made it work.
Until he broke into the Arsenal team in 2003 as a 16-year-old, whenever you performed the Gunners there have been giants everywhere in the pitch. Suddenly you had little Fabregas there as an alternative.
You would take a look at him and assume “what will go on right here?”
But whereas he was small, he was very mature for his age and likewise clever and so elusive. He was all the time on the transfer and he by no means performed the obvious ball, which made him very harmful.
He was a brand new kind of midfielder for us to cope with and each time I performed him, I believed: “I do not wish to must deal with this.”
‘One of the greats – and a unique sort of menace’
|Most assists (all-time)||Most chances created (since 2003)|
|1. Ryan Giggs (162)||1. Cesc Fabregas (845)|
|2. Cesc Fabregas (111)||2. Steven Gerrard (827)|
|3. Wayne Rooney (103)||3. Frank Lampard (801)|
|4. Frank Lampard (102)||4. Wayne Rooney (734)|
|5. Dennis Bergkamp (111)||5. Stewart Downing (727)|
|6. Steven Gerrard (92)||6. David Silva (710)|
When I believe again to what it was prefer to play against among the different excellent midfielders of that period, then Steven Gerrard would just run throughout you, and could sort out and shoot from distance. Frank Lampard would all the time get goals no matter you probably did to attempt to stop him, and Paul Scholes was the pass-master.
Like Gerrard, Lampard and Scholes, Cesc will go down as a Premier League legend. It was just as horrible to play against him because it was to go up against any of these three, however he provided a unique sort of menace.
By that, I imply he would go into areas that others would not. He was comfortable to obtain the ball wherever and, though he didn’t appear to be he was very sturdy, he was so nippy and sharp you could not get close to him.
As an adolescent, he by no means actually had an enormous vary of passing – I discovered that got here later when he was not capable of run as a lot with the ball.
But again then, when he was with the Gunners, he was capable of dribble very nicely and drive by means of midfield to make issues occur, and he was all the time so match as nicely – loads fitter than individuals ever gave him credit score for.
I had some good battles with him over the years whereas I used to be at Newcastle and in north London derbies with Tottenham, and he was just consistently up and down the pitch, demanding the ball and all the time driving his team ahead.
‘He moaned loads – he was annoying on the pitch’
Last summer time’s World Cup, after we had been each pundits for the BBC in Russia, was the first likelihood I needed to actually sit down and have a chat with Cesc.
I by no means knew him nicely once I performed against him and, I’m not going to lie, he was a bit annoying on the pitch.
Like lots of the Arsenal team of that point, he was a moaner – and Cesc did moan loads. If you tackled him, or anybody else, he was all the time the first one to get within the referee’s ear about it.
He contributed in the direction of the one sending off I had in my profession, in an enormous method.
In the opening game of the 2005-06 season, I used to be enjoying for Newcastle at Highbury and went in for a sort out with Gilberto Silva.
It was not an incredible problem, but it surely was not a purple card. It acquired rescinded less than 24 hours later, so it clearly was not that unhealthy.
But Cesc was straight into the face of referee Steve Bennett. I ended up having an argument with Fabregas about it, saying “come on I’ve hardly touched him” however he had carried out his job.
I walked, we had been all the way down to 10 males after half an hour – and Arsenal won 2-0.
‘Gaining an advantage on your team is what intelligent players do’
Cesc has all the time been intelligent off the ball in addition to on it – you may bear in mind him playing a part in getting Fernandinho despatched off in a mass scuffle when Chelsea performed Manchester City in December 2016.
If you look again at Cesc’s profession, he has most likely been caught up in a number of conditions like that the place individuals wish to take his head off, as a result of he has carried out one thing to them that the referee could not see.
I’ve by no means seen something fallacious with that myself – it’s all the way down to the opposition to keep up their self-discipline.
By doing that, he’s just attempting to gain an advantage for his aspect – just like he’s when he’s talking to referees – and he was most likely taught loads about it at a really younger age on the Barcelona academy.
So it isn’t as if I had Cesc down as a foul individual or something like that, but it surely was nonetheless good to spend a little bit of time with him over a glass of wine in Moscow, to get to know him and discuss what life is like for him now.
He was nice firm, and he spoke extremely about lots of the younger lads who’re coming by means of at Chelsea now, and the way he helps them, which I additionally thought was spectacular.
‘His largest attribute – dictating the tempo’
Cesc has packed loads into his profession for membership and nation however I most likely bear in mind him finest for one in every of his early appearances for Arsenal, in the 2004 Community Shield against Manchester United.
Around that point there was speak of me going to Arsenal and I watched that game so I could check out their midfield.
I used to be expecting Gunners boss Arsene Wenger to vary issues round a bit, however I noticed Cesc, who had just turned 17, tackle the likes of Roy Keane and I believed “my god, this child is unbelievable”.
And he was. He proved at such a younger age that he was able to coping with virtually each hectic scenario by consistently getting on the ball. He demanded it greater than anybody else.
Cesc’s largest attribute was his potential to dictate the tempo of the game, and the circulate of the match.
Right from the beginning he could orchestrate lots of that. There is loads to admire about him, however you even have to recollect he came to visit to play within the Premier League at such a younger age, and didn’t just adapt to it – he flourished right here.
He was by no means the most important tackler however at the same time as an adolescent he thought he was the king on the pitch and that was the aura he all the time possessed whenever you went up against him.
I discover it unusual that he by no means received the principle Player of the Year award – he was PFA Young Player aged 20 in 2007-08 – however I believe his timing was a bit out with Arsenal.
If he had come by means of a few years earlier, he would have had a significantly better aspect round him however, as he emerged, the ‘Invincibles’ team that received the title in 2004 was just beginning to break up.
Instead he was a part of Wenger’s rebuilding course of, which clearly had its ups and downs, before he left to go back to Barcelona in 2011.
‘He has picked an excellent time to depart the Premier League’
I didn’t play against Cesc when he returned to England with Chelsea in 2014 however I watched him loads, and his first season at Stamford Bridge was presumably his better of on a regular basis he had within the Premier League.
When he was Arsenal captain he had some unbelievable years however, after becoming a member of Chelsea, he was fairly phenomenal with among the issues he was doing.
Whether he was deep-lying or acquired pushed a bit additional ahead, he had an enormous impact in ensuring they received the title under Jose Mourinho that year.
You must undertake your game as you grow old – and I nonetheless assume to this present day that he has carried out that brilliantly – however, at 31, Cesc has most likely picked an excellent time to depart the Premier League.
The tempo of the game on this nation catches up with everybody in the long run, irrespective of how good you’re, and I believe he was finding it tougher as a result of he was not enjoying week in, week out.
If you aren’t an everyday, you then lose sharpness on high of getting older so, to extend his profession, he wanted to go to a membership the place he is aware of he’ll play commonly.
With his outdated Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry being Monaco coach, they clearly know one another very nicely and I’m certain he’ll get the most effective out of him.
Because Cesc didn’t get many particular person awards, there’s all the time the query of whether or not he will get sufficient recognition on this nation for what he has achieved, however I believe he does.
I might hope that the Arsenal supporters nonetheless recognize him regardless that he left for Barca – no person could blame him for that – and it was Wenger who selected to not use his choice to purchase him again.
But even when he doesn’t get the credit score from English fans – which I believe he does by the best way – then he 100% will get it from the players.
The individuals who performed with and against him have gotten lots of respect for what he has carried out on this league, year after year, and he’ll go down as one of many greats.
Jermaine Jenas was talking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.