Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte admitted he changed his mind about Cesc Fabregas, praising the midfielder for forcing his way into his plans.
Fabregas struggled for playing time early last season, Conte’s first at the club, before fighting his way in as Chelsea went on to win the Premier League title.
The Spain international has already made 12 league starts this season – he made 13 in 2016-17 – and Conte hailed the 30-year-old.
“Cesc at the start of last season didn’t play a lot, but I was very happy because through the work he tried to change my mind and it happened,” the Italian said ahead of his side’s Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid.
“He is still young for sure. When you are 30 years old you have at least five more years to play football,” he said.
“At this level you must have great desire and great will to play at this level because it is not simple.
“There is a lot of competition with other players but Cesc has great ambition. He’s a winner in his mind, in his mentality. For this reason he is very strong.”