Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has admitted that he cannot guarantee whether or not Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas will be at Stamford Bridge come the end of January.
Speaking ahead of his side’s Premier League clash with Sunderland on Wednesday night, the Italian boss was pressed on whether or not Fabregas would still be at the club in February;
“In football, in my experience, it’s very difficult to guarantee always something, so this is difficult,” admitted the former Juventus boss.
“But Cesc is an important player for us. He played a key match against Manchester City, and played very well. In the last match [against West Brom] he came on very well during the game.
“Tomorrow I have still to decide the starting XI [to play Sunderland], but Cesc is always a good choice, for me. He is an important player and in the squad of Chelsea. Now this is the reality.”
Chelsea’s London rivals West Ham, who have been struggling in the Premier League this season and need something in January to kick on their turnaround, have been linked with a loan move for the former Arsenal midfielder, and Conte’s comments will come as great encouragement to the powers that be at the London Stadium.
The Spain international, who was integral to the Blues’ title win under Jose Mourinho in the 2014/15 season, has fallen foul of Conte’s switch to a 3-4-3 system, with which he has deployed a settled midfield pairing of summer signing N’Golo Kante and a resurgent Nemanja Matic.
This change, combined with a slight thigh problem, has meant that the World Cup winner has only started two Premier League games this season and has less than 200 league minutes under his belt as we approach Christmas.
A loan to another London club, although not ideal for Fabregas, who has repeatedly reaffirmed his desire to stay put and fight for a spot, would offer little logistical complications.