It looks like Cesc Fabregas’ time at Chelsea is up, with reports today claiming the Blues are now ready to pay a chunk of his wages to send him out on loan when the transfer window re-opens in January.
The Spain international has only been at Stamford Bridge since 2014, but has looked past his best for much of his time with the club, and particularly so now in the demanding system deployed by new manager Antonio Conte.
Still, Fabregas has impressed in brief showings in the EFL Cup, most notably with his two goals to help beat Leicester City at the King Power Stadium, and he surely still has something to offer at the top level.
Like Wayne Rooney at Manchester United, Fabregas has been around for a long, long time after becoming an Arsenal regular at the age of just 17, notching up an incredible 660 career appearances for club and country before even hitting 30.
Still, it seems hard to believe that he can’t make it work at another major European club. Would any of these five do well to snap him up before he makes the inevitable step down to the MLS/China/Qatar retirement leagues?
A club that found a way to keep Andrea Pirlo performing at the top level well into his mid-30s, surely Conte’s old Juventus could make room for Fabregas if he does become available?
Fabregas has played a number of roles throughout his career, and though he has excelled as a box-to-box player for much of his time in the Premier League, it’s little surprise to see his legs are no longer able to hack it.
Still, he has some of the best range of passing in the game, and could surely benefit from the slower pace of Serie A to pull the strings from a deep-lying Pirlo role.
Another Italian side who could give Fabregas the chance to extend his career, AS Roma are in need of some creativity in midfield.
Having lost star playmaker Miralem Pjanic to rivals Juventus in the summer, Fabregas may be the ideal replacement with his similar expertise in passing, set-pieces and goal contribution from the middle of the park.
Roma also look like being one of Juve’s main challengers for the Serie A title this year, so Fabregas wouldn’t have to feel like he was taking a major step down.
Another top club still getting the best out of an ageing midfield playmaker, Bayern Munich may want to think about replacing Xabi Alonso at some stage.
The 34-year-old remains a key part of Bayern’s plans this season, and there’s no reason Fabregas couldn’t adjust his game a little to play a similar role for the Bavarians.
The problem right now, however, is that they don’t massively need him. Still, Fabregas could surely still hold his own in the less competitive and physically demanding Bundesliga, where Bayern dominate possession and win comfortably almost every week.
With rumours that Marco Verratti could be on his way out of Paris Saint-Germain, the Ligue 1 giants could do with a quality like-for-like replacement in midfield.
Again, in the less competitive French top flight, Fabregas could very well be that man, and PSG will have little problem offering him the financial incentive to move to the Parc des Princes.
Spaniard Unai Emery, who took over as manager this season, will be well aware of Fabregas’ qualities and could be the perfect manager to revive his career at this stage.
Fabregas will no doubt be tempted by a return to Spain, but it’s hard to imagine any of the big three would take him at the moment.
Valencia, however, are a different story: a wealthy club who continue to under-achieve, there’s no question they’d love a player of Fabregas’ quality and stature to come in and give their squad a boost.
Lack of European football and little prospect of silverware could be an issue though, but if only on loan it may be the perfect opportunity for the former Arsenal man to put himself in the shop window.