Eden Hazard has paid tribute to Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas after the Spain playmaker made his final appearance in Chelsea’s 2-0 FA Cup win over Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
The 31-year-old midfielder was tearful as he applauded fans at Stamford Bridge and he is set to leave Stamford Bridge this week with his Chelsea contract expiring this summer.
Fabregas is closing in on a move to Monaco, where he will link up with Monaco manager Thierry Henry, who was his teammate at Arsenal.
Fabregas joined Chelsea in June 2014, two years after Hazard arrived at Stamford Bridge and the pair helped the club win a double that season.
During his five year stay at Chelsea, Fabregas won two Premier League titles, a League Cup and FA Cup.
Fabregas saw his playing time at Chelsea diminish this season with Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri preferring Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic in Chelsea’s midfield three.
Hazard paid tribute to Fabregas ahead of his move to Monaco by admitting he was lucky to play with Fabregas.
“In five years, I can say that I was lucky to play with him,” Hazard said as he paid tribute to Fabregas.
“Since the beginning when he came, we saw it the first year, we won the double together.
“Top guy on the pitch, off the pitch, a great friend of mine.
“Just admiration about this guy. I hope he will have a good future. It’s a bit hard now, but he’s still very good and he will enjoy.”
Fabregas was given a standing ovation by Chelsea fans when replaced by N’Golo Kante in the 85th minute and the Spaniard was emotional as he left the pitch.
Fabregas all but confirmed his move away from Chelsea after the match, saying: “I can’t say anything out of respect for Chelsea but everyone knows the situation.”
Ross Barkley, who played in midfield alongside Fabregas against Nottingham Forest, also paid tribute to Fabregas.
“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.”