Cesar Azpilicueta expects Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas to continue at Stamford Bridge in the long-term, following his "game changing" performance during the 3-1 victory at Manchester City on Saturday (3 December). The Spaniard said that there is "no doubt" that his compatriot wants to stay at west London and hopes the Blues don't get rid of him during the coming January transfer window despite speculations suggesting the opposite.
Fabregas, 29, was already linked with a move away from Chelsea during the last days of the summer transfer window. The former Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder eventually stayed at the club but has since failed to convince Conte to deserve a regular place in his plans, with both N'Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic being the first choice to form the midfield.
Calcio Mercato Web and Corriere dello Sport have thus linked with a January move to AC Milan in recent times while the Daily Mirror has suggested that Chelsea would even consider loaning him to West Ham United.
However, Conte has since ruled out both options and Azpilicueta now insists that Fabregas proved against City that he still has a major role to play for Chelsea. Yet, the former Barcelona star made his second starting appearance of the Premier League due to Matic's injury and took the chance with both hands, inspiring his side comeback by providing a great assist for Diego Costa's equaliser.
"To have a player like him at the club is really important. We know his qualities — he is a game changer," Azpilicueta said to Evening Standard. "The passes he did during the win against Manchester City were amazing. He provided the assist for the goal which got us back into the game — Diego scored a very good goal. Not a lot of players can provide that kind of pass.
"I have seen him do things like that for years, with Spain as well. The skill that he has is very special. He can see passes before anyone else and is so accurate from such a long distance. Obviously, it is a really difficult thing to do and for others to stop."
Azpilicueta insisted that Fabregas is also likely to continue at Stamford Bridge, adding that the Premier League leaders need all the members of the squad to fight for the title.
"Does he want to stay? He shows that in every training session and in the games in which he's played. There is no doubt about it. When some players are not playing, there is always a bit of speculation. But Cesc has shown really good commitment, great spirit in training and in every game, when he has played and when he hasn't. I think we will have him [for a long time yet]."
"We know that to win a title we need a contribution from everybody. The line-up hasn't changed much over the last few weeks but all the players are training really well. When players are getting their time, everyone is doing their job. That is massive for the team.
"Players like Cesc, who aren't getting a lot of time on the pitch, know that even if they play just one minute, maybe they can make the difference. It's very important because the game is 90 minutes and we can't play with the same team [every week]."