Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea can win Champions League crown, says 'young' Cesc Fabregas

Chelsea v Atletico Madrid, Champions League Group C, Stamford Bridge, Tonight, 7.45pm

By Matt McGeehan

Cesc Fabregas believes he has plenty to offer Chelsea after proving head coach Antonio Conte wrong, and hopes to fulfil his long-awaited dream of Champions League glory with the Blues.

Fabregas has won every major honour in his storied career with Arsenal, Barcelona, Chelsea and Spain, including the World Cup - except the European Cup.

The playmaker is out of contract in June 2019 and already 30. Chelsea's policy is to offer players 30 and over only 12-month contract extensions, but Fabregas is not concerned by that.

"I am only 30. What is 30? Nothing," said Fabregas, speaking ahead of tonight's Champions League Group C clash with Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea needing a win to finish top.

"I'm very young. I really mean it. Especially how I play, the position I play. You can go for many more years. I can tell you many cases.

"It's true at the end of the year I have a year left, but let's see what happens. I'm where I want to be. I'm enjoying my football. When the moment comes to talk about different things I'll be here, ready for it.

"Right now I don't think it's the right time. (It's time) to focus on Chelsea, to feel good and deliver points and trophies for the club. Hopefully it will be Chelsea's year (in the Champions League). We'll try our best to be consistent enough to reach the final and hopefully win."

Fabregas was initially out of favour in Conte's first season, but is now firmly in the starting XI after swaying the Italian's opinion. He had made only four appearances at this stage last year; this season it is 18.

"Well, I would be lying if I said that I wasn't worried," added Spain star Fabregas.

"Maybe worried is not the right word. I wasn't playing, I wasn't really part of (Conte's) initial plans and at that point you can do two things.

"You can just give up and accept you are not going to be part of the team or the club in the future.

"The other is what I did, put your head down and be humble, show him that he's wrong, that he can trust you, that you can play in this time. Every time I had an opportunity I gave my all.

"My relationship with the manager is fantastic. He trusts me, and he knows exactly what I can give to the team."

The Blues secured their place in the last 16 by winning at Qarabag last month and will finish top if they can pick up the victory over Atletico.

The La Liga giants need to win to have any chance to advance, but are reliant on Qarabag beating Roma to reach the draw on December 11.

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