It’s not easy being Cesc Fabregas, who needs to play with the most talented bunch of midfielders in the world and the best player on the planet as well, which make him look like a bit-part player sometimes at Barcelona, but numbers, and actually watching him play suggests a very different reality.
The expectations from Fabregas once he arrived from Arsenal were slightly unfair, and it seems they haven’t been adjusted accordingly ever since. Barcelona overpaid for a player due to sentimental ties. He wasn’t signed because they needed him badly – besides having Xavi and Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquests and Thiago Alcantara, no one was quite sure how Fabregas fits into the Barcelona system.
So during his two seasons with the club, in which he has scored a total of 20 league goals to go along with his 24 assists (in 62 matches), he has played as the central midfielder (probably his least successful role) instead of Xavi, as the more attacking companion in the midfield, as a false 9 and as somewhat of a left winger when Barcelona overload their lineup with players who can keep possession.
Is that so bad? Nope, but just like with the national team, Fabregas gets to be compared with the Xavi-Iniesta tandem that quite frankly, might be the best creative midfielder duo we’ve ever seen in the sport. Fabregas is efficient, contributes in goals and sets them up on average twice every three matches and started more matches last season for Barcelona than anyone except for Victor Valdes. He was fifth on the team in minutes players (2317), coming behind Valdes, Messi, Pique and Jordi Alba – four players who own the position they play in.
The problem is some expected Fabregas to be as dominant as he was when playing for Arsenal, but that’s impossible. Not with Xavi still on the team, and the 26 year-old Fabregas will eventually take his place in the midfield (or fill-in for Iniesta while Andres becomes the deep-lying playmaker), if he improves his accuracy in short passing, which is vital for the Barcelona system to function well.
Fabregas is an excellent player, and in most matches (Except for the “big” ones, in which he hasn’t performed well this season most of the time) he shows it, even if he has to work harder in order to get noticed. His biggest fault? Being part of a golden generation, with two exceptional players in the middle of the pitch, forcing him to either come off the bench or play where he’s less comfortable, having to wait for the big chance and recognition at his boyhood club to finally arrive.