Cesc Fabregas appears on the brink of a London return—choosing Chelsea over his beloved Arsenal—but while the deal represents masterful business from Jose Mourinho, the Spaniard doesn't naturally fit into the Blues' game.
Mourinho is ready to offer Fabregas a bumper contract, reported by Metro:
Chelsea are ready to hand Cesc Fabregas a whopping £200,000 a week to move to Stamford Bridge from Barcelona this summer.
[...] Jose Mourinho wants the 27-year-old to replace Frank Lampard, after he was released this week, and Chelsea are going all out to get their man.
Such an agreement is barely out of the ordinary at Stamford Bridge, but Mourinho's shrewd freeing up of funds and consciousness toward expenditure is. The Portuguese boss quietly moved David Luiz on for an extortionate fee of around £50 million, reported by Joe Hare of the Telegraph, ridding Chelsea of another pawn who was only ever bloating the squad under Mourinho's tutelage.
Selling for an estimated £50 million is only well and good if you can replace the player with similar quality. Chelsea have confirmed a £32 million deal for Diego Costa, reported by BBC Sport. If they tie up Fabregas for the reported £30 million, noted by Alex Richards of the Mirror, Mourinho would have spent just £12 million on significantly improving the squad.
That is unbelievable financial management.
In truth, the sales of Juan Mata and Kevin De Bruyne set the tone in January. A combined total of £53.1 million was raised before £32 million was spent on Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah, two players who better fit Mourinho's idea of a Chelsea player, reported by James Dickenson of the Express.
Profit, plus a change of style, has allowed Mourinho to further stamp his authority over a squad that is developing at a rapid pace. Matic is sure to be a key component of Chelsea's midfield efforts in the coming years—and he is far more suited to sitting in front of the West London club's back four than Luiz ever was—while Salah's work ethic and energy makes him an exciting replacement for Mata.
Although the newly recruited duo have settled in nicely, Fabregas doesn't immediately appear to be the right sort of player to fit Mourinho's cause. He doesn't possess the sense of constant danger produced by Frank Lampard in his pomp, nor is he built to continually track back in aid of Chelsea's defence. Fabregas slots between the midfield and attacking lines, simmering until the ball lands at his feet.
The Spaniard is undoubtedly world-class and flaunts attributes that would improve most teams, but his interlinking nature has often allowed him to go under the radar at Barcelona. There, he is one cog in a midfield unit that simply maintains possession without major exertion for much of the game. If off form, he can get away with it.
At Chelsea, his individual responsibilities will be intensified by the searchlight that beams straight from Mourinho's glare. We've seen Mata and Eden Hazard criticised by the boss for their tendency to offer little in Chelsea's half—the former sold due to this very reason—and Fabregas is likely to struggle with the same problems when returning to the Premier League.
Matt Fortune of the Daily Mail also believes the former Gunners star isn't suited to the manager's style, saying, "His genius simply wouldn't flourish in the restrained world of Jose Mourinho."
Of course, Fabregas is adaptable and professional enough to alter his game for the English side. His passing, vision and willingness to find space is better suited to Chelsea than it ever was at Barcelona, but he won't receive the freedom he once enjoyed at Arsenal. Like everyone else under Mourinho's tutelage, he will fall in line or be deemed surplus to requirements.
Mourinho's brilliance in the transfer market means he can afford to experiment. The experienced manager will no doubt chuckle to himself in a private moment, the thought of selling Luiz for £50 million tickling his mind once more. In this day and age, it's this kind of business that can make all the difference between Chelsea and PSG falling foul of UEFA's Financial Fair Play guidelines.
While nobody is currently working the restricted market better than Mourinho, his real genius will need to shine through when converting Fabregas to the Chelsea way.