PARIS (AP) — Cesc Fabregas almost had a dream debut for Monaco in the French league only for teammate Youri Tielemans to waste a late golden chance in a 1-1 draw at Marseille on Sunday.
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Despite only signing from Premier League Chelsea on Friday, Fabregas went straight into the team and added poise and assurance to Monaco’s midfield.
In the first minute of injury time, Fabregas cleverly chipped the ball over the Marseille defense, only for Tielemans to drag his shot wide.
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Watching from the sideline, Monaco coach Thierry Henry could barely contain his frustration. Still, it was an important point for 19th-placed Monaco in its relegation fight.
Next up for Henry’s Monaco is eighth-placed Nice at home on Wednesday, a match which pits Henry against his former Arsenal and France teammate Patrick Vieira, who is now coach of Nice. Both Henry and Vieira were also teammates of Fabregas when he started his Arsenal career late in 2003.
Few players have done or seen more winning over the last 15 years than Cesc Fabregas.
[ VIDEO: Fabregas in tears while applauded off pitch by Stamford Bridge ]
From his seven-year stint at Arsenal (one major trophy), to his return to Barcelona (two), to the last five seasons at Chelsea (three), and of course there’s his glittering international career with Spain (back-to-back European Championships either side of the 2010 World Cup), Fabregas has played — and won — with more than a handful of all-time greats.
With his career beginning to wind down and a transfer to Monaco reportedly on the cards, Fabregas exited the field at Stamford Bridge in fitting fashion on Saturday — complete with a few tears — and admitted afterwards that “the occasion got the better” of him. While it seems like Fabregas has been entertaining us for the longest time, he was adamant that it feels like all that time has gone by in the blink of an eye — quotes from the BBC:
“It feels like it was last week that I started playing professionally — and now it’s over 15 years.
“It is a long time and for the young players that start playing, just a little advice: to enjoy it, every single second, because time flies — it goes so fast.
“The occasion got the better of me. I didn’t expect all of this to happen today. And that’s it.”
Cesc Fabregas is off to Monaco (most likely), though it is yet to be announced formally by Chelsea. He bid adieu to Stamford Bridge in an emotional goodbye on Saturday.
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The Blues beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 in the FA Cup, and Fabregas’ tears were not due to his terrible miss of a penalty kick in the first half.
Fabregas is due to be reunited with former teammate Thierry Henry, now the boss at AS Monaco, and Saturday’s match is most clearly his final game with a London club (at least for now).
The longtime Arsenal man returned to London in 2014, and has claimed two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, and a League Cup. He won another FA Cup and finished as a UEFA Champions League runner-up during his time at Arsenal.
Maurizio Sarri has said he’s worried that Cesc Fabregas will leave Chelsea this summer, but might the 31-year-old midfielder depart earlier than that?
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L’Equipe reports that Fabregas could sign with a new team as early as next week, with AS Monaco ready to splash some January cash to reunite the midfielder with former teammate Thierry Henry.
Fabregas spent 2003-07 on the same pitch as Henry, who now manages Monaco. The Ligue 1 outfit is struggling mightily this year, and Henry needs veteran blood to steady his young group.
Crystal Palace’s Mamadou Sakho is also of reported interest to Henry, who signed Lyle Foster of South Africa’s Orlando Pirates to their second team on Wednesday.
Maurizio Sarri has gone on record to say he hopes Cesc Fabregas will stay at Chelsea despite rumors that he will leave Stamford Bridge in the summer.
Fabregas, now 31 years old, has made just five Premier League appearances this season, but Sarri believes he’s still a vastly important squad player, only kept off the field because of a lack of injuries to the midfield.
“I want him to stay, I don’t know the final decision of Cesc and the club of course,” Sarri said in his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s match against Crystal Palace. “But for me it’s very important and if Cesc will go I think that we need to buy another player, and it’s not easy because, technically, Cesc is a very important player. And I think that in the market it’s very difficult to find a player with his characteristics.”
Fabregas has found more playing time in the fringe knockout competitions, starting in four of Chelsea’s six Europa League group stage games and also playing the full 90 minutes in all three EFL Cup matches. Still, he is not first-choice for Sarri who has chosen Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic, and N'Golo Kante as his starting midfielders. Fabregas has been an unused substitute left on the Chelsea bench nine times this season in Premier League play.
The Spaniard’s contract expires at the end of this season, leaving him free to sign with any team on a free transfer starting in January. Chelsea reportedly has a policy to limit the contract offers to players over 30 years old, leaving Fabregas to ponder his future. He came to Stamford Bridge in 2014 from Barcelona and has made 196 appearances for the Blues across all competitions.