Antonio Conte admits Cesc Fabregas was not originally in his plans at Chelsea, but changed his mind after seeing the Spaniard’s dedication.
When Conte arrived at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2016, Fabregas found himself reduced to a fringe role, amidst speculation that he could be allowed to leave the club.
By this stage of the campaign 12 months ago, he had started just four games and it wasn’t until the second half of the season that he began to play regularly.
But this time around, Fabregas has been a fixture in the Chelsea XI, with Conte revealing that he has completely changed his perception of the 30-year-old.
“I think Cesc at the start of the last season did not play a lot, but I was very happy because through work he tried to change my mind and it happened,” said Conte, ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid.
“If you remember the second part of last season he started to play with regularity. The first part of the season I decided to play almost every game with [N’Golo] Kante and [Nemanja] Matic but in the second part of the season I think Cesc played a lot of the games.
“I think he was very important for us to win the title last season. In this season he has continued to work very hard and he’s shown me great commitment, great behaviours.
“I think that the coach has to make the best decision for the team, I tried to make the best decision, in this season he is playing with regularity, he is performing well and I hope in the future to continue in this way.”