Antonio Conte: How Cesc Fabregas changed Chelsea manager’s mind
The Chelsea manager highlights Cesc Fabregas' continued importance to the defending Premier League champions
Antonio Conte has lifted the lid on how Cesc Fabregas managed to force his way back into the Chelsea manager’s plans over the past 12 months.
The Spain international appeared to be facing a bleak future at Stamford Bridge following Conte’s appointment back in 2016.
Fabregas had to wait until December 2016 to make his first Premier League start when the talented playmaker helped Chelsea to secure a 3-1 win at title rivals Manchester City.
The 30-year-old finished the 2017-18 Premier League season with 13 starts and 16 substitute appearances in Chelsea’s title-winning campaign under new boss Conte.
Nemanja Matic’s £40m move to bitter rivals Manchester United and fitness issues with N’Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko have given Fabregas an increased importance at Chelsea this term.
Indeed, the former Arsenal captain produced a brilliant performance in Chelsea’s 3-1 win against Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.
Speaking to his media conference ahead of Chelsea’s home clash against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday night, Conte talked up the importance of Fabregas to the west London side.
“Cesc at the start of the last season didn’t play a lot, but I was very happy because through his work, he tried to change my mind, and it happened,” Conte said.
“In the second part of the last season he started to play with regularity, and he was very important for us to win the title last season.
“This season he continued to work very hard. He showed me great commitment and great behaviour.
“The coach has to make the best decision for the team, because the coach wants to win in the same way as the players and fans do. I tried to make the best decision. This season he is playing with regularity.
“He is performing well and I hope he can continue like this for a long time.”
Chelsea won the Premier League title with two games to spare last term after finishing seven points clear of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur.