Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas is one of the Premier League’s “living legends” according to former Middlesbrough man Gaizka Mendieta.
Fabregas appeared to have played his final game in England during Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday.
How good has Fabregas been in the Premier League? Five key things to know…
- Cesc Fabregas move to England in as a 16-year-old in 2003 and quickly became a key member of Arsenal’s midfield known for his creativity.
- After a brief spell in Spain, Fabregas returned to England with Chelsea where he won two Premier League titles.
- Fabregas looks to have said his goodbyes to Chelsea and England ahead of a proposed move to Monaco.
- And former Middlesbrough and Spain midfielder Mendieta believes Fabregas is a Premier League legend.
- Cesc Fabregas is the only player to provide 10 or more assists in six different Premier League seasons..
The Spaniard captained the side and came off with five minutes to a standing ovation, looking close to tears upon his departure.
After the full-time whistle Fabregas returned to the pitch to soak up applause from Chelsea fans once more, in what many believe to be his final run-out for the club.
With just six months remaining on his current contract, Fabregas has been linked with a move away from Chelsea and is reportedly close to signing for Monaco to join up with former Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry.
500 games in English football, what an achievement.
— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) January 5, 2019
And, talking to Squawka, former Spanish midfielder Mendieta spoke highly of Fabregas’ time in the Premier League: “He came to the Premier League very young and made a huge impact since his debut with Arsenal and then Chelsea.
“He brought a lot into the clubs, into the football, I think the fans love him.
“As a Spaniard, of course, I’d say maybe unfortunately for him, although he’s one of the top ones who scored important goals for Spain in the World Cups and the Euros but he had big competition in that area, otherwise he would have been a regular in most games.
“He’s definitely a living legend in the history of Spain and the Premier League.”
How Fabregas earned legendary status in the Premier League
Joining Arsenal in 2003, Fabregas did not wait long to impose himself on the Gunners’ midfield, announcing himself to the world during the 2004 Community Shield.
With Patrick Vieira injured, Fabregas was thrust into the starting XI against Manchester United, with a performance so good it cancelled then-West Ham midfielder Michael Carrick’s proposed move to the Gunners.
Writing in his biography of the incident, Carrick said: “On the Sunday, I settled down at home in Theydon Bois, Epping, to watch Arsenal, my team to be, in the Community Shield against Manchester United.
“I saw that a kid, Cesc Fabregas, only 17, started in Vieira’s place. Fabregas played a blinder but I didn’t think too much about the significance. I sat at home on Sunday night waiting for the call to arrange details of the next day. Arsenal! I couldn’t wait.
“But I waited, and waited, and that call never came. The next day, I had to go into training at West Ham instead and, on the way, David phoned to say he’d had a call from [David] Dein. David relayed the gist of his message, like, ‘I’m sorry, the manager says we don’t need Michael. Fabregas is coming through like he is. Sorry, the deal’s off.’ Fabregas’ performance changed Wenger’s mind about needing me.”
It would prove to be the right decision, as Fabregas went on to record 70 assists for the Gunners between 2004 and 2011, while also winning the FA Cup in 2005.
Cesc Fàbregas is the fastest player to provide 100 Premier League assists and the only player to provide 10+ assists in six different seasons.
Playmaker extraordinaire. 🙇♂️ pic.twitter.com/weE72h3RKW
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 5, 2019
Following a move to boyhood club Barcelona, Fabregas returned to England with Chelsea and immediately played his way into the hearts of the Blues’ fans.
In four-and-a-half years with Chelsea, Fabregas would record 41 Premier League assists, winning the title twice as well as the League Cup and FA Cup.
Fabregas leaves England with 350 Premier League appearances, 50 goals, 111 assists, with the FA Cup win over Nottingham Forest being his 501st game in English football as a whole.