Fabregas still proving his worth for Monaco at 33

Cesc Fabregas AS Monaco
AS Monaco

Despite being in the twilight of his career and not as mobile as he once was, Cesc Fabregas continues to show what a class act he is.

From his role at the base of midfield, the 33-year-old’s shone in recent weeks for Niko Kovac‘s side, with his tactical intelligence, technical mastery, fine judgment and awareness ensuring he’s influenced proceedings heavily. 

Now in his second season on the French Riviera, a period that’s seen plenty of managers and turmoil, he’s clearly enjoying working under Kovac, who’s getting the best out of the Spaniard. “I evolved into a different position,” he told Nice-Matin. 

“I think this is the position where I can express myself the best. But I couldn’t tell the previous coaches, who made their choice. I have already played in this position with Conte and Sarri at Chelsea. Ever since Niko (Kovac) arrived he told me he wanted to use me in this role, that it was the best for me. I take advantage of it, I touch a lot of balls. My legs are incapable of doing long runs of fifty, sixty meters in a sprint. It’s normal not to have the legs of my twenties. But with intelligence, good structure and good tactics, that’s okay.”

Helping Monaco control matches with his positioning and passing, his experience and nous have ensured they can dominate possession. Key in constructing, connecting and breathing life into his team’s work with the ball, colleagues always look for him to instigate moves.

So smart with his positioning and awake to openings, he’s a wizard at forming overloads and being situated ideally to help his team progress through the thirds and be a viable option all over the pitch. Especially key during build up, where he’ll either drop between the wide splitting centre backs to form a line of three or be just ahead pinning markers to open passing lanes or being an option behind the first line of pressure, he’s such an asset here.

Helping form a 3v2 in build up
Helping generate a 3v2 in midfield

When retreating back to get into a temporary back three, this not only generates a numerical superiority in the first line, but also allows them to draw out the opposition to break through and manipulate their foes so the central defenders can dribble upfield in the half spaces.

As the ball moves up the pitch, more positives have arisen from how he supports wide attacks by offering a route back infield to open up the far side and central areas, plus through his odd rotation with his nearby eight, which allows him to push forward into dangerous areas in the final third. 

The fact he’s always scanning his surroundings allows him to find pockets of space expertly and adjust his receiving posture so he knows where to position himself and his body. Able to shield the ball from opponents, spin away from danger, recognise which foot to control on, if he can immediately turn or if a one touch pass is required, Fabregas arms himself with the information he needs to coherently execute his actions. The fact he’s so composed and clean in his first touch and ball control adds to his worth, with him always seeming to have time to make his decisions. 

Fabregas’ outstanding range of passing continues to serve him well, for his vision to pick a pass, amazing range and pinpoint accuracy sees him oblige runners, switch the play with ease and unlock defences with incision. A real pass master whose imagination and creativity complement how effectively he plays simpler passes, Fabregas has a pass for any scenario.

Distributing with ideal weighting over long, intermediate and short distances, his teammates have relished his silver service. Moreover, the fact he usually passes to their preferred foot only adds to his quality. 

Such a weapon with his measured through balls in behind, lofted switches to isolate wingers and fullbacks and at set pieces, his aerial passing has been at a customary elite level to put his colleagues in great spots to score or progress attacks. Getting just the right amount of curl, power, dip and height on his passes, it’s been a joy to watch him weave his magic. 

Lovely defence splitting through ball
Masterful through ball in behind
Sublime crossfield through ball in behind

Meanwhile, his ground passing has been similarly excellent. Whether breaking the lines to find his attackers, hitting crisp diagonals (that move opposition blocks two ways), combining intricately in close quarters with some one touch passing or recycling possession coherently, Fabregas has contributed smartly here too.

Wicked left footed through ball
Classy line breaking pass into feet

His statistics make for good reading, where his 6.76 accurate long passes per game, 10.01 successful passes into the final third pg, 60.27 accurate passes pg at 86.1%, 2.06 dribbles pg, 2.06 shot assists pg, 2.05 accurate through balls pg and 1.47 fouls suffered pg depict his worth.

Full of poise and polish, the experienced leader, who’s always communicating and gesturing to help his teammates, has certainly repaid Kovac for placing his faith in him.

Giving Kovac something different to his other midfielders, the incredibly talented Fabregas is clearly relishing being deployed as a deep lying playmaker, which is a role that suits him perfectly at this stage of his career.

While he may not be physically capable of playing every game or getting about the pitch like he used to, Fabregas keeps on proving what an integral member of Monaco’s squad he is, with his multifaceted skill set still seeing him shine at the top level.