CESAR AZPILICUETA believes Chelsea must keep hold of Cesc Fabregas.
The 29-year-old Spaniard has struggled for game-time under new Blues boss Antonio Conte this season and that has led to mounting speculation that he could be sold in January.
But the former Barcelona star produced in an impressive performance as Chelsea beat Manchester City 3-1 to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League.
Azpilicueta says that display showed that the west Londoners can’t afford to lose Fabregas and he expects his compatriot to stay at Stamford Bridge for many years to come.
The 27-year-old told the London Evening Standard: “To have a player like him at the club is really important. We know his qualities — he is a game changer.
“The passes he did during the win against Manchester City were amazing. He provided the assist for the goal which got us back into the game — Diego scored a very good goal. Not a lot of players can do that kind of pass.
“I have seen him do things like that for years, with Spain as well. The skill that he has is very special.
“He can see passes before anyone else and is so accurate from such a long distance. Obviously, it is a really difficult thing to do and for others to stop.
“Does he want to stay? He shows that in every training session and in the games in which he’s played. There is no doubt about it.
“When some players are not playing, there is always a bit of speculation. But Cesc has shown really good commitment, great spirit in training and in every game, when he has played and when he hasn’t.
“I think we will have him [for a long time yet].”
Saturday’s game at the Etihad was only Fabregas’ second Premier League start of the season.
While his chances under Conte have been few and far between so far this term, Azpilicueta says he and all of Chelsea’s fringe players will have to make a contribution if they are to win the league.
The defender added: “We know that to win a title we need a contribution from everybody.
“The line-up hasn’t changed much over the last few weeks but all the players are training really well.
“When players are getting their time, everyone is doing their job. That is massive for the team.
“Players like Cesc and everybody who aren’t getting a lot of time on the pitch know that even if they play just one minute, maybe they can make the difference.
“It’s very important because the game is 90 minutes and we can’t play with the same team [every week].”