What would you do if you had a billion dollars? Would you save it for a rainy day? Would you spend it on things that you need? Or would you spend it on anything that you fancy, even if you might have no need for them at all? That is certainly the question that would’ve been running through Jose Mourinho’s mind at the start of the summer transfer window, when he had all the money in the world, to buy the kind of players that he wants.
The signings of Diego Costa and Fillipe Luis from Atletico Madrid were both necessary and should both prove to be crucial to the side’s chances as they look to compete on both domestic and European fronts. It is however the acquisition of Fabregas that seems to be puzzling. Bringing back a player, who had previously stated that he never wanted to return to England, from his boyhood club for a considerable amount of money is something that at the outset itself seems a little bizarre.
With Frank Lampard finally leaving Chelsea, the club were in need of someone who could theoretically fill the Englishman’s boots. While Fabregas can certainly score and create chances akin to Lampard, both players have completely different styles. While Lampard played a deeper role towards the end of his career, Fabregas is someone who has always been given a free role to roam from central midfield.
Not only are both different in the positions that they occupy, they are also different in how they approach the game. While both can technically be classified as a box-to-box player in their prime, they had very different ways of going about their game. While Lampard was always a pass and shoot player, Fabregas is more of a pass, pass, pass, don’t shoot, pass and if all else fails, shoot player.
Both at Arsenal and Barcelona, he was given the freedom in central midfield and that is what made him such a threat going forward. One of the reasons why he failed to create too much of an impact at Barcelona was because of his lack of positional awareness and tendency to drift in and out of games. And it because of his lack of positional discipline that he was culled from Barcelona, where he was bought as the heir to Xavi Hernandez.
With Mourinho’s preference of industry over intelligence, the Spaniard’s acquisition is certainly something that raises a lot of questions. Although Fabregas is more than capable of contributing defensively, would he, for instance, be able to curb his natural tendency to go forward and instead stay back and maintain his position. Would be prepared to give up on his style, for the substance that Mourinho demands. Will the care-free, enthusiastic footballer that was Fabregas, turn into the hard-working player he needs to be if he is to fit into Mourinho’s plans?
Far more importantly however, how would the Spaniard react to Mourinho, when the pair have hardly seen eye-to-eye. Would he, for instance, be able to forgive the Portuguese manager for his apparent kick aimed at Fabregas in 2011 Super Cup final when the former was managing Real Madrid and latter was at Barcelona? Would he be able to forgive him, for calling Arsene Wenger, someone whom the Spaniard considers as a father figure, a “specialist in failure”?
In not just footballing terms, but on a personal level as well, the Spaniard’s decision to leave Barcelona for Chelsea, doesn’t seem to be a wise one. In purely footballing terms, Fabregas seems like a solid addition to the Chelsea line-up. He is in his prime, versatile, can bring his team mates into and providing a goal-scoring threat from the centre of the park. But the fact of the matter is that the Spaniard is likely to have to change his style of play, if he is to fit into Mourinho’s side, even then there is no saying whether the pair will ever get along well. So while his decision to leave the Catalans was a good one, Chelsea might not be the best place for him to strut his stuff, especially with Mourinho in charge.