On Sunday, Cesc Fabregas emerged as the great craftsman of AS Monaco’s success against FC Nantes (2-1).  Under the watchful eye of coach Niko Kovac and AS Monaco President Dmitry Rybolovlev, Fabregas earned Monaco its 1000th League 1 win.

There were rumours that he was done for, already semi-retired by 2018 when he joined AS Monaco, his days as World Champion (2010) and double European Champion (2008 and 2012) long behind him. On 13 September at Monaco’s Louis II stadium, during AS Monaco’s match against FC Nantes, Cesc Fabregas proved such rumours wrong. One thing is sure: he’s still got it. On the starting line-up due to Youssouf Fofana’s absence, Fabregas was placed by Niko Kovac right in front of Monaco’s defenders, much like Marco Verratti with Paris Saint-Germain. The result is an impressive performance: 107 touches and 74 completed passes (82, 2% success rate).

After a 2019 season, which first saw him out of rhythm and then taken down by injuries, it looks like lockdown did wonders to the former Arsenal and Barcelona player. On Sunday he truly was the man of the match. Kovac’s men were in a 4-3-3 formation. The game also marked Radosław Majecki’s first time on the starting line-up. He took striker Kevin Volland’s spot. It wasn’t long before Fabregas took hold of the game, completing some difficult passes, including one to Gelson Martins which earned Monaco its first goal (Sofiane Diop 6’).

Niko Kovac: “Cesc was the best player on the pitch today”

Playing alongside fellow mid-fielders Sofiane Diop and Aurélien Tchouaméni, the Catalan-native proved that he was as good with corner kicks as he was with passes. Particularly striking was a corner kick that nearly resulted in a goal, had Benoît Badiashile not hit Alban Laffront’s post (15’). Fabregas was also behind a long-shot to Kevin Volland, who nearly scored his first goal thanks to the mid-fielder’s striking pass (29’). At the 70th minute it was now Fabregas’ turn to miss a back of the net. A lack of concentration, perhaps, failed to secure the thirty-three-year-old player a point.

“Cesc was the best player on the pitch today I think,” said Niko Kovac during the post-match press conference. “He brought a sense of rhythm to our play. He created a lot of chances, especially on the one for Kevin Volland. It has been six months since he has played, I’m very happy for him, he has great qualities, he will be able to help the team,” he added.

Still going strong by the end of the match, Fabregas managed to play the full 90 minutes, somewhat of a feat for a player who last season wasn’t always physically up to the task of a full game. There is a lot of hope in the season. Given that AS Monaco did not qualify for the Champions League and the Europa League, the season will not be as full on as previous ones. Gone are the days of two matches a week. With a calmer schedule, Fabregas could flourish. We are placing bets on him becoming the driving force behind Nico Kovac’s men.