Is Cesc Fabregas worthy of 'Premier League Legend' status?

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TWO SUCCESSFUL SPELLS IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE, WITH A BREAK IN-BETWEEN TO WIN LA LIGA WITH BARCELONA

It took a lot of guts in deciding to move to Arsenal during his youth career, but it was clear to see that Fabregas would be lacking in the game-time he was after, leaving him with very little option. Joining Arsenal in 2003, it only took a matter of months until the midfielder started his senior career, playing out 212 games for the North London club over an eight year period, scoring thirty-five goals in the process. As Barcelona have been known to do with several other key players such as left-back Jordi Alba, positive performances outside of Spain prompted the Spanish giants into re-signing Cesc Fabregas, where he saw wins in the Copy del Rey, the Supercopa de Espana, the UEFA Super Cup, the FIFA Club World Cup, and a La Liga title. This continued the silverware taken in England, where he previously won the FA Cup, the FA Community Shield, and a finish as runner-up in the Champions League with Arsenal, but a steadily decreasing playing time at Camp Nou had him stuck with the same predicament as the last time he was in Spain, needing to depart in order to play on a more regular basis.

Although it appeared that his heart was set on a return to Arsenal, Arsene Wenger appeared to be adamant that Mesut Ozil was in his place, leading Cesc Fabregas to joining Chelsea instead. It might not have been his first choice after leaving Barcelona for a second time, but the same level of performance was clear, leading to a further 138 games and fifteen goals, with his primary skill being to provide assists to his teammates. He was capable of taking two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and an EFL Cup win at Chelsea, seeing just as much silverware even into his latter years as a professional player. During this time, he was able to play over 100 games for Spain, winning the 2010 World Cup, but whether he's earned the right to be labelled as a Premier League legend is a matter still up for debate.

BREAKING PREMIER LEAGUE RECORDS OVER TWO MASSIVELY SUCCESSFUL TERMS IN ENGLAND

An argument can easily be made for Cesc Fabregas as one of the Premier League's very best. Individual accolades include two appearances in the UEFA Team Of The Year and the UEFA European Championship Team Of The Tournament, one in the World XI, a Golden Ball, Golden Shoe and Golden Player Award all at under-17 international level with Spain, and further wins as Golden Boy and the PFA Young Player Of The Year. Barcelona were foolish to ever let him go - making it even more bizarre to see him leave Camp Nou twice - achieving the record for the youngest capped Spain player in seventy years and being handed two prestigious Spanish accolades including the Spanish Gold Medal of the Royal Order of Sporting Merit and the Prince of Asturias Award.

His knack for assisting fellow teammates has stood out especially, currently standing as the fastest player to achieve 100 Premier League assists, surpassing Ryan Giggs, who remains as the player with the most ever Premier League assists, but taking seventy-four more games to reach 100 than Cesc Fabregas did in the 2016/17 season. His first season back in England saw him as a key part of the Chelsea lineup, as he became the first player to record one or more assists in six Premier League games in succession. The passing and vision that's made him so highly-regarded for assisting goals hasn't gone unnoticed either, achieving EFL Cup Top Assist Provider in 2018 and UEFA European Championship Top Assist Provider in 2008.

Cesc Fabregas Chelsea Premier League Assists
Cesc Fabregas' quality is clear and he surely stands as one of the Premier League's very best

Reports link Cesc Fabregas with a move away but he will always hold a stamp over the Premier League, as he stands with the second most all-time Premier League assists, in good company ahead of Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Dennis Bergkamp, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, James Milner, David Silva and Teddy Sheringham, with only Ryan Giggs ahead of him.

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WITH A MOVE TO MONACO IMMINENT, HAS CESC FABREGAS BEEN SHOWN ENOUGH RESPECT?

We've seen it with every great player that saw their best years in the Premier League, and the same looks to be the case with Fabregas at Chelsea - that the end to a once illustrious career might not be quite as sensational as the key moments we remember the most. Cesc Fabregas odds available on bookmakers websites have dropped massively over the last couple of weeks, and his next move looks set to be Monaco in French Ligue 1, where he'd be managed by former teammate Thierry Henry. The move away indicates that his career is far from over, but it still feels like the end of an era, as the man with the second-most all-time Premier League assists bids farewell to a division he once ruled.

This season has only seen five appearances in the Premier League, and only one of those five saw Cesc Fabregas starting the game, so it's been easy to see that the Spaniard isn't regarded as one of Maurizio Sarri's primary players. Whether this is a sign of disrespect from the Italian Chelsea boss is another thing, but it would be far fairer to assume that in starting a year where he will see his thirty-first birthday, he's finally falling down the pecking order, with Jorginho, N'Golo Kante, Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mateo Kovacic all capably taking his place, as they have been doing since the Premier League season kicked off in August.

Cesc Fabregas Pedro Rodriguez Sergi Roberto Barcelona La Liga
Cesc Fabregas held his ground among Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Thiago Alcantara, Sergio Busquets and Seydou Keita in Barcelona's midfield

Through indications on the official Cesc Fabregas instagram account and from Cesc Fabregas' wife, his move to Monaco looks hours from being confirmed. It could still be somewhat up for discussion if it wasn't for his last appearance for Chelsea, where he was substituted off against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup, looking tearful towards the crowd as all at Stamford Bridge - both home and away fans - applauded Cesc Fabregas as he departed the pitch.

CESC FABREGAS CAN'T BE DENIED STATUS AS A PREMIER LEAGUE GREAT

Preparing for another fixture, Maurizio Sarri's side are set to feature in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday evening, but we've already predicted in our Tottenham v Chelsea betting preview that Cesc Fabregas will have left the club and be planning a flight to Monaco. Their weekend meeting with Championship side Nottingham Forest featured two goals for Alvaro Morata, both assisted by Callum Hudson-Odoi, but the spotlight was focused on Cesc Fabregas, as his emotional substitution indicated his last game for Chelsea and the last time we'll see the Spaniard playing in England.

Maurizio Sarri and Chelsea are yet to confirm Fabregas' Monaco move but Sarri was clear with the situation. He said: "At this club there's a rule - the renewal of players over 30 is for one year. I don't want a player as important a Cesc unhappy". Sarri himself admitted the impact that Cesc Fabregas has had on the Premier League, speaking on his substitution against Nottingham Forest, where he said: "As you know, he had a standing ovation and there were some tears because he gave so much to the Premier League".

Cesc Fabregas Chelsea Davide Zappacosta Antonio Rudiger Premier League
Even the rift between him and Arsenal for not returning to the Emirates shouldn't prevent a respectful goodbye from Gunners fans

An alternative way of seeing Cesc Fabregas' departure from the Premier League would be as a massive opportunity in French Ligue 1, where Monaco - who won the league back in 2017 - now sit second to bottom. A player of Fabregas' magnitude should surely be joining one of Europe's stronger sides, but with former Arsenal teammate Thierry Henry at the helm and other incomings set for the January transfer window, Monaco could be underdogs that are worth watching into the second half of the season. Cesc Fabregas himself might not be perceived as being at the necessary level for regular Premier League football, but based on his past achievements, it will be interesting to see whether he can conquer France into 2019.

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