The midfielder has struggled to find a spot under Antonio Conte at Chelsea but his passing game could be just what is missing alongside Paul Pogba.
For Manchester United, the arrival of the international break means a momentary lapse in the great Paul Pogba debate. Since the return of the French midfielder, everyone connected with the club seems to have had their say on how best the world-record signing can be utilised.
United’s form has been in no way convincing since Pogba made his £89.5 million move from Juventus, with Jose Mourinho so far having struggled to find the best role in which to deploy his expensive new toy. The Portuguese has regularly used Pogba as one half of a double-pivot alongside Marouane Fellaini or Ander Herrera, while experiments employing the star man as a No.10 and then as the left-sided player in a three-man midfield including Wayne Rooney were both short-lived.
While Michael Carrick has so far been massively underused since the former Chelsea manager arrived, perhaps there could be an answer in the shape of a one-time Mourinho charge now struggling to make his voice heard at Stamford Bridge under Antonio Conte.
Cesc Fabregas was a member of the ex-Inter and Real Madrid boss’s Chelsea side who won the 2014-15 Premier League title and his ability on the ball is one thing with which United could really do on a consistent basis just behind Pogba in their current 4-2-3-1 setup.
In their last two league matches – a 4-1 win against Leicester City and a dominant display in the draw with Stoke City – United have allowed Pogba to push up to a higher starting position by beginning with Herrera as his midfield partner. However, Fabregas could provide a higher level of quality distribution from the base of the engine room, with his superior passing range potentially giving the Frenchman an added edge to his marauding running game.
Such a move has been a long time in the pipeline, with David Moyes having become convinced in the summer of 2013 that Fabregas would be joining his revolution at Old Trafford. He would later claim that Ed Woodward’s succession of David Gill at United’s transfer point-man led to the pursuit failing.
“We thought we were taking him to Manchester United. We spoke to him at the time but, unfortunately, it didn’t happen,” he said earlier this year.
“There was a new chief executive in place. David Gill had left, which was a really big thing for Manchester United. He was someone who was very important to the club and to how things ticked along at the club. In that position you need to understand football, like David Gill.”
But Woodward now has Mourinho firmly in position as manager and, with the Portuguese having already been linked with a move for Fabregas last summer, there is always a chance that United could make a serious move once more in the future.
Having won league titles with both Barcelona and Chelsea, it is clear that the former Arsenal man can play a big role in successful teams. And at United there are still questions to be answered in exactly the kind of position in which Fabregas thrives.