March 17, 2018

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte: 'Cesc Fabregas changed my mind about him'

06 December 2017, 01:03 | Sandy Nunez

Fabregas moved to Chelsea from Barcelona in 2014- the same year Lampard departed

Fabregas moved to Chelsea from Barcelona in 2014- the same year Lampard departed

Antonio Conte has praised Cesc Fabregas for forcing his way into his team with hardwork, saying he changed his mind about him.

Fabregas revealed he had to Conte's "method" and "philosophy" in training and be fitter, work harder and adapt defensively to a new role.

"I wasn't part of his initial plans". The first part of the season I made a decision to play nearly every game with [N'Golo] Kante and [Nemanja] Matic but in the second part of the season I think Cesc played a lot of the games. "It's not the right time, it's time to focus on Chelsea, keep playing well and deliver points".

Fabregas, who was a member of the Arsenal side that lost to Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final, will be 32 when his present contract is up in 2019 and Chelsea policy is to only offer one-year contracts to players aged 30 and over.

The talented 30-year-old is now just one game short of matching his total starts from last season, as we enter December, and although it is true that his lack of mobility can cause him to struggle when played in a midfield two, if he is given the protection of playing with two other central midfield partners, there are few better play makers in world football.

The Blues secured their place in the last 16 by winning at Qarabag last month and can finish top with victory over Atletico at Stamford Bridge.

I am only 30.

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"Me and Cesc never really got on well on the pitch so they didn't think we could share a dressing room".

"Especially how I play, the position, you can go for many more years, I can tell you many cases", Fabregas said. I'm enjoying my football.

"We'll try our best to be consistent enough to reach the final and hopefully win". You can go for many more years. When the moment comes to talk I'll be here, ready for it'. "For this reason he is very strong".

Said the Spaniard, who won the 2012/13 Europa League with Chelsea during his spell as interim manager: "Chelsea have a lot of good things".

Asked if that would provide additional satisfaction, given the saga surrounding Diego Costa which saw the striker return after three years at Stamford Bridge, Conte was evasive.

"We needed to win before the top teams played and it was an important three points".

"If the whole team after (Tuesday's) game has to play Europa League, it can happen".

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