With Monaco rumoured to be signing him, Cesc Fabregas said “the occasion got the better of me” after an emotional day at Stamford Bridge.
Cesc Fabregas stopped short of confirming his move away from Chelsea but admitted “everyone knows the situation” amid reports linking him with a transfer to Monaco.
The World Cup-winning midfielder left the Stamford Bridge pitch in tears after the Blues’ 2-0 FA Cup third round victory over Nottingham Forest, in which he captained the side but also missed a first-half penalty.
He was given a standing ovation when replaced by N’Golo Kante in the 85th minute and the Spaniard indicated in a post-match interview that reports of his imminent departure were true.
“The occasion got the better of me,” Fabregas told BBC Sport.
“I didn’t expect all of this to happen today. I can’t say anything out of respect for Chelsea but everyone knows the situation.”
500 games in English football, what an achievement.
— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) January 5, 2019
If his rumoured switch to Ligue 1 comes to fruition, Fabregas will wave farewell to English football for what could be the last time after a combined 12 and a half years, first at Arsenal and then Chelsea, either side of his three-year spell at Barcelona.
“Time flies,” said the 31-year-old. “It feels like last week I started playing professionally, and now it has been over 15 years.
“For the young players, a little advice: enjoy every single second.
“You have to be ready every three days, live with criticism, with everyone saying how good you are, with up and downs, but time really does fly.”
Ross Barkley, who played alongside Fabregas in midfield as Alvaro Morata’s second-half goals ensured Chelsea’s passage to the fourth round, paid tribute to his team-mate.
“As a young lad watching Match of the Day and seeing Cesc for Arsenal and Barcelona you can see what an intelligent player he is,” Barkley told BBC Sport.
“I’ve seen how quick he thinks on the spot. It has been a pleasure playing with him, whatever move he chooses to make.
“He’s played for Spain in the era when they won everything and he held his own with the likes of Xavi and [Andres] Iniesta.
“He’s going to go down as one of best midfielders ever.”