Cesc Fabregas: ‘A pioneer, not just an help machine for Arsenal and Chelsea’


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?”

Arsene Wenger made Fabregas the youngest player in Arsenal’s historical past when he handed him his debut, aged 16 years and 177 days, in a League Cup tie against Rotherham on 28 October 2003. He received the 2005 FA Cup with the Gunners and performed of their 2006 Champions League final defeat by Barcelona

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’

Premier League
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.

What was it like enjoying Fabregas? “He would arc his run again to his goalkeeper to gather the ball and be off again, driving ahead and dictating play,” Jenas defined. “If the transfer broke down, he would return to the keeper again, demanding the ball. You could be so deep defending that you simply could by no means get near him, so each time he was on the ball he was all the time operating at you.”

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’

Cesc Fabregas intervenes within the aftermath of Jermaine Jenas’ problem on Gilberto Silva – Jenas was despatched off

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,