Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas provided a swift demonstration of why Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was so keen to bring him back to the Premier League as he orchestrated Monday's 3-1 season opening win at Burnley in commanding fashion.
Fabregas spent seven seasons in England with Arsenal before making a move, three years ago, back to Barcelona, where he had been part of the youth system.But with the midfielder never having quite established a prominent role for himself at the Nou Camp, Mourinho made his move in June with a reported 30 million pound ($49.93 million) fee bringing Fabregas back to London.
It already looks like one of the best signings of the season.
At Turf Moor, Fabregas showed that he will be at the heart of Chelsea's title bid - dictating the tempo, providing pinpoint passes and linking up superbly with Eden Hazard and Andre Schuerrle in support of new forward Diego Costa.
For a 30-minute spell in the opening half, Chelsea responded to falling a goal down to Burnley by producing a display of passing and movement that provided early justification for their status as title favourites.
While Mourinho was impressed with Fabregas's contribution, he was far from surprised at the quality the 27-year-old brought.
"When players are your first choice it is very difficult that you make a mistake and Fabregas was our first choice for that position," Mourinho told reporters. "I know clearly the player that he is because we were so many years in the same league, in England and in Spain. I know him so, so well, so I knew exactly what he would bring to my team," the Portuguese added.
What may bring the best out of Fabregas is the role he has been handed at Chelsea - clearly the central midfield general, with a license to go forward but a responsibility to keep the entire unit ticking.
"In Barcelona, he was playing all over," Mourinho said. "Number nine, fake number nine, number ten, winger, in so many positions but I know - and he knows better than me - what is his position. So he is giving exactly what we need, which is that stability and quick-thinking in midfield, the right decision, the right intensity," the former Real Madrid coach added.
While Fabregas clearly relished the chance to play in his favoured role, he was also highly effective at bringing the best out of those around with his intelligent use of the ball.
"He brings other people in the same direction you could see the way that (Nemanja) Matic was playing in a different way than last season. So I am happy with Fabregas," Mourinho said.
Fabregas had a hand in all three Chelsea goals on Monday and if he can maintain that sort of early form he could have a real chance of finally get his hands on the Premier League title that eluded him during his time with Arsenal.
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