How Fabregas can reinvent Mourinho and inspire Chelsea
After one game in blue former Arsenal and Barcelona man is hailed as signing of the summer
The Premier League season is only one week old, but already Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas has been singled out as the player who could decide this year's title race.
His bravura debut performance against Burnley on Monday night has provoked gasps of admiration and assertions that Chelsea have made the signing of the summer – one that leaves Arsenal, Manchester United and Barcelona with egg on their faces.
Arsenal passed up the opportunity of re-signing their former captain when he left Barcelona. But in the space of 90 minutes on Monday night "the 27-year-old may have proven Wenger has made the biggest mistake of the summer in not bringing his prodigal son home", says Tom Sheen in The Independent.
He controlled the game "in a way Chelsea fans have never seen", says Sheen. "The Blues have had fantastic, world class midfielders down the years – Lampard, Ballack, Essien and Makelele – but those players dominated through physicality, power and athleticism. Fabregas' performance was one of dominance through sheer skill."
His pass to set up Andre Schurrle for Chelsea's second goal "could end up as a highlight of the whole season", says The Times. Rarely has a player appeared so at home in a team on his debut.
"If the speed of Fabregas's reintegration to English football is no surprise, perhaps that just illustrates why the former Arsenal captain represented that rare thing: a low-risk, high-class acquisition," adds the paper.
He also has a point to prove after a grim summer, says Mandeep Sanghera of the BBC. "Discarded by Barcelona, rejected by Arsenal and shunned by Spain, Fabregas must have been relieved when Chelsea came to his rescue as they pounced to sign him for a fee believed to be in the region of £30m."
His manager, Jose Mourinho, has gone out of his way to praise the player, and was "purring" over his new acquisition on Monday night. "If Fabregas felt unwanted and unloved at Barcelona, that is not the case under Mourinho."
And according to BBC pundit Martin Keown: "Mourinho is a manager with whom you get the impression there is no time to lose – it is now or never. That focus may just take [Fabregas] to a new level."
There is also an element of symmetry in the alliance between Fabregas and Mourinho, who are both back in London having underachieved in Spain.
"The great homecoming for Fabregas was meant to be Barcelona. Mourinho's coronation as the top coach in Europe... was meant to come at Real Madrid. Instead it could yet be England where these two former clasico enemies create their masterworks," says Paul Hayward of the Daily Telegraph.
It would be "laughable" to make predictions after one game of the season, he says, but the Spaniard is "one of the few in today's top tier capable of running not just his own department but a whole game".
And the marriage may not only benefit Fabregas, it could help Mourinho too. "The next time we call him an anti-football manager we will have to qualify it by saying he bought Cesc Fabregas in this transfer window: a creator, not a destroyer."