Chelsea Target Cesc Fabregas: 4 Reasons Why He's an Unwarranted Potential Buy
Mourinho, speaking at a pre-World Cup event for Yahoo, made no attempt to conceal his eagerness to bring Fabregas to West London. Per Sky Sports:
I am interested in studying Fabregas' situation. I think he is anxious to leave Barcelona and motivated to return to England. I think that is clear...Whether he is going to sign for Chelsea or for another club, that is not a subject to be discussed today, tomorrow or before the World Cup.
In addition, two Spaniards already on Chelsea's books have gone ahead and publicly backed the move. Fernando Torres and Cesar Azpilicueta both had words of high praise for their national teammate, reports Sky Sports.
Meanwhile, it would appear Barcelona are already bracing themselves for the departure of their midfielder, with a replacement lined up. According to the Daily Mail, the Catalan giants have won the race to sign Sevilla star Ivan Rakitic.
Fabregas' quality is not in question. Having made a name for himself as a world-class talent while at Arsenal, the Spaniard earned a move back to his boyhood club. He has been fairly prolific for Barca over the past two seasons, netting 19 league goals since joining. He's also garnered 24 assists in La Liga over that stretch.
Truth be told, though, it hasn't been all rosy for Fabregas at Barca. His teammate and friend, Gerard Pique, believes that the club hasn't afforded the playmaker enough appreciation (per Goal.com).
While most clubs would be delighted to have a player of Fabregas' caliber join their ranks, he isn't necessarily the man Chelsea needs. Given the sizable amount of money that will be exchanging hands should the move go through, Mourinho must deliberate further to be sure he's identified the right man.
Here are four reasons why the potential signing of Fabregas is unwarranted.
All stats courtesy of Squawka
He's Not Suitable for Chelsea's Double Pivot Formation
The number of players already competing for a spot in the attacking triumvirate behind the center forward is considerable. In light of that, Mourinho likely intends to deploy the La Masia graduate as one of two holding midfielders.
Nemanja Matic is arguably the only central midfielder in the current setup who's done enough to nail down a spot in the manager's first-choice starting XI for next term. This Squawka Comparison Matrix clearly illustrates his superiority to his defensive midfield peers of last season.
Bringing in a player with Fabregas' vision would undoubtedly mean better distribution to those higher up the pitch. But it must be noted that the Blues already possess a deep-lying pass-master with exemplary ball control in Matic.
However, balance and poise are key attributes of the double-pivot setup. One has to wonder if Chelsea would be better served pairing their 6'4'' Serbian with a more combative and industrious midfielder. Fabregas doesn't bring to the table the same diligence and tirelessness as current Blues midfielder Ramires.
Fabregas used to be deployed in a deeper role alongside Mathieu Flamini by Arsene Wenger back in his Arsenal days—though he has grown accustomed to playing high up the pitch for Barcelona. Even so, that old system for the Gunners was more conducive to free-flowing attacking football than Mourinho's current Chelsea.
In an attempt to accommodate the talents of Fabregas in the double pivot, Mourinho may end up compromising some of the defensive solidity that we grew used to seeing in 2013-14. John Terry and Gary Cahill have undoubtedly forged a brilliant center-half pairing, but the deep-lying midfielders deployed by Mourinho played a big part in producing the solid defensive stats in 2013-14.
If, though, I'm mistaken in my assumption, and the Portuguese gaffer envisages playing Fabregas in the hole behind the striker, one can only wonder what brought about the sale of Juan Mata. Neither player is heralded for his work rate, something Jose expects from whoever occupies that slot.
A switch to a 4-3-3 would be perhaps the only logical way to incorporate the talents of Cesc Fabregas at Chelsea.
The Club Would Be Overlooking Their Current Players—Again
The arrival of Fabregas would only lead to further denial of opportunities in midfield for promising youngsters of the likes Nathan Ake and Nathaniel Chalobah. The move could also potentially hinder the progress of the more established Marco van Ginkel, who spent much of last season on the sidelines.
But even if we overlook the possible predicament of those three, what of John Obi Mikel?
If Jose Mourinho is really looking for a deep-lying midfielder to be the footballing equivalent of a quarterback for his side, he ought to consider his Nigerian anchorman for opportunities in the role. Why look outside before looking within for a solution?
Afforded more freedom by his national team manager, Mikel has excelled for the Super Eagles in a role fairly different to the safety-first one he performs for his club. To dispel some myths: Yes, he can pass the ball forwards. He does it well, too. It is his ability to spread play and start attacks that makes Mikel indispensable to Nigeria, and he deserves a chance to exhibit those skills at Chelsea.
Chelsea's Lack of Goals Must Not Be Attributed to a Lack of Creativity
Is Fabregas, as Torres and Azpilicueta claim, the sort of player Chelsea currently lack? Perhaps. But the inability to win tight games against certain opposition last season should be attributed to the absence of a genuine goalscoring threat, as opposed to a lack of creativity in midfield.
Torres, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto'o each demonstrated a fair share of profligacy in front of goal over the course of the 2013-14 campaign.
Willian and Eden Hazard would've been better served with a player possessing the deft touch and clinical finishing of Diego Costa to pick out up front. This Squawka Comparison Matrix clearly shows that Willian and Hazard are right up there with the league's finest playmakers when it comes to chance creation and incisive passing. Having a reliable goalscorer up front could have led to a vastly different outcome for the Blues.
Jose Mourinho must think long and hard. Is his side lacking in creative play? Certainly not. It isn't Chelsea's area of dearth. But the No. 9 position is.
The seemingly imminent signing of Costa (as per Sky Sports) is imperative for Chelsea, but the same cannot be said about a potential move for Fabregas.
A Sizable Cash Outlay for Reinforcement in Midfield Isn't Warranted Right Now
I think that headline is as clear as it gets.
Chelsea's recent dealings in the transfer market have kept the club in line with UEFA's financial fair play regulations so far.
This would not justify another spree of reckless spending, however. An outlay of £30 million on a player who won't significantly boost the club's prospects of silverware would be foolish. That's not to say that any marquee signing would be unwarranted—but as we've established, the Blues should be splashing out for a striker, not Fabregas.
In essence, Chelsea attempting to land Fabregas is rather similar to Arsenal's successful pursuit of Mesut Ozil. The Gunners didn't necessarily need the German playmaker, but when an individual of that stature becomes available, it becomes rather difficult to forgo the opportunity to snap him up.
But Chelsea are attempting to return to the top of the Premier League, and that requires more than just big-name signings—it requires smart signings. And devoting £30 million to buying Fabregas just does not qualify.