Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte has likened Cesc Fabregas to Italian legend, Andrea Pirlo with his skills on the ball not withstanding his lack of speed.
Asked about recent comments from notoriously unhurried midfielder Cesc Fabregas that football is increasingly prioritising athleticism over skill, the Chelsea gaffer admitted the trend exists, but maintains that players of Fabregas’ ilk will always be valued.
“This is not modern football, but modern sport. You must improve every year, every record. Usain Bolt changed the story. Before, you run 100 meters in 10 seconds or 11 seconds. Now it’s nine seconds and this means you have to improve always,” Conte said, as quoted by ESPN FC.
“Cesc is a top player and a genius at football. I can talk (about him) in the same way as about Andrea Pirlo. In the same way. We are talking about a genius of football.
“Cesc if he doesn’t run 100 meters in 10 seconds, I can allow him this, because he’s a genius with the ball. His velocity is in his mind. With Cesc we are working a lot on tactical aspects and to improve also his positioning. Cesc I think is different.”
Fabregas, 29, has largely played second fiddle to the indomitable duo of N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic this season, but has still recorded six assists on the campaign – despite making only five starts.
Conte, accused of casting the Spaniard aside in order to implement his uptempo system, rebutted by noting that Fabregas still plays an important role for the champion-elect Blues.
“Sometimes you must make the decision to look at the balance of the team,” Conte added. “And sometimes you must make different decisions. For me Cesc is an important player, and I try to put him always in the best condition to give his best for the team.
“Until now I’m very pleased for him. Don’t forget that in his place is Kante. A lot of people say that he is the best player in the league. Then there is Matic who I think is playing in an outstanding way.
“When you have two players in front of you playing so well it’s not easy. It’s the same for Willian and Pedro.”
A good problem to have, no doubt.
“Cesc is playing with us and is very important for the team and I’m pleased about this.”