Assist king Fabregas still showing De Bruyne, Ozil, Eriksen and Co. how it’s done

Cesc Fabregas ChelseaGetty


Goals win games and that is why the demand for striking talent will always outweigh supply.

We are very much in silly season when it comes to transfer speculation, with gossip columns needing to be filled between windows, but it is not too difficult to imagine a top forward breaking the world transfer record this summer.

Andrea Belotti, Antoine Griezmann, Romelu Lukaku, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Kylian Mbappe are just a handful of names to be thrown into a pot which could end up costing upwards of the £89 million Manchester United paid Juventus for Paul Pogba in 2016.

Fabregas proud of personal record

Those mentioned above, and many more beside, are so sought-after because they have mastered the most difficult skill in the business – putting the ball in the back of the net.

All are capable of producing individual moments of brilliance to drop the jaw and question the sight.

They are, however, as reliant on those around them to conjure up time, space and opportunities as they are their own personal ability.

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Strikers provide the finishing touch, with their contribution often the final stroke of a brush in somebody else’s masterpiece.

They get all of the credit, steal the headlines and earn the really big bucks.

That standing is only possible, though, with the support of others - with game-enders reliant on game-changers.

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For every jinking run or 35-yard thunderbolt there are countless more tap-ins and one-touch finishes that were only made possible by a pinpoint cross or expert through-ball delivered by those with the vision and creative instincts required to pick the trickiest of locks.

Playmakers look good, but they also make those around them look better.

That is why, while the art of the number nine is revered, it is the number 10 that really capture the imagination – think Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, George Best, Zinedine Zidane, Johan Cruyff, Ronaldinho, Paul Gascoigne, Michel Platini, Dennis Bergkamp, even Cristiano Ronaldo has spent much of his career in more of a forward bracket than that of an out-and-out striker.

Creators are held in as high regard as finishers by those who dedicate their life to playing or following football, and the modern era is awash with star performers whose exploits will live long in the memory.

Antonio Conte Cesc Fabregas
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In Premier League circles, English football has rarely had it so good.

Philippe Coutinho, Christian Eriksen, Alexis Sanchez, Kevin De Bruyne, Ross Barkley, Mesut Ozil, David Silva and Eden Hazard are among the best in the business, with all having generated speculation regarding big-money transfers at some stage as their undoubted talent is courted by those seeking the kind of spark only they can provide.

None of them, however, can claim to have perfected the art of the assist quite as successfully as Cesc Fabregas.

Fabregas among top creators

The Spanish schemer recently celebrated his 30th birthday and has every reason to believe that he is as productive now as he has ever been throughout a distinguished career that has delivered Premier League and La Liga titles, a FA Cup triumph and Club World Cup crown, as well as European Championship and World Cup glory.

The success he has enjoyed wherever he has been is no fluke.

Fabregas is fortunate to have surrounded himself with world-class talent for club and country, but that has only been possible because he himself slips seamlessly into that category.

He has shown that once again in 2016-17 by helping Chelsea back to the Premier League summit.

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De Bruyne, Eriksen and Gylfi Sigurdsson may have racked up greater totals but it is Fabregas who boasts the most productive numbers, with none of his rivals able to match his return of an assist every 112 minutes.

He retains a standing at the top of the charts when the net is spread a little wider to incorporate all of his outings since returning from Barcelona in 2014, with more goals created than any other player to have graced the English top-flight – with only De Bruyne edging him out on the per-minute front.

Fabregas may not always earn the plaudits that others do, but his transformation from bit-part player to key cog in Antonio Conte’s well-oiled Stamford Bridge machine serves to further highlight how vital the skill set is that he brings to the fold.

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“Cesc is one of the best examples of our season,” Conte said.

“This season he didn't play a lot at the start. Then, through hard work, he improved a lot and now he is playing in every game. I think Cesc is showing he is a fantastic player and I'm pleased for him.”

The Italian is not the first to have underestimated Fabregas, but he is the latest to have realised that he cannot be ignored and that his special qualities allow not only him to flourish, but everyone who falls onto his remarkable radar.