Zola Reveals How Close Chelsea Came To Signing This Cesc Fabregas Replacement

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Chelsea let Cesc Fabregas leave the club in January as the Spaniard was keen on leaving the club following Maurizio Sarri’s insistence on using Jorginho over him.

Fabregas joined Monaco in the January transfer window, but the Blues weren’t able to sign a replacement for the Spaniard as Jorginho remains Sarri’s only choice in the deep line playmaker role, although he has tried Mateo Kovacic in that role a couple of times.

Chelsea were linked with Cagliari’s Nicolo Barella, but a move for the 22-year-old never materialised.

Chelsea assistant manager Gianfranco Zola has now confirmed that Barella was close to joining Chelsea.

“We were so close,” Zola told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“He’s strong and Sarri has always liked him, but then things fell through.

“I gave Nicolo his debut at Parma in the Coppa Italia.

“At 17 he had the tools and character of the great player, but to play for a big club he must grow. His attitude isn’t lacking.”

With an impending ban that will restrict Chelsea from signing players for the next two transfer windows, the Blues might not be able to go for Barella during the summer or even any other player, and the club is now being forced to keep every player for at least one more season.

Sarri made only two signings last summer, Jorginho from Napoli and Kovacic on loan from Real Madrid, and the Blues boss had revealed that he wants Kovacic to remain at Stamford Bridge.

When asked whether he wanted to enter the market for another midfielder this summer, as Chelsea attempt to overturn a two-window transfer ban when their appeal is heard by FIFA this Thursday, Sarri said: “No, I want to try with Kovacic.

“He is only on loan, of course, but I’d like very much that Kovacic will stay with us. You know very well that, in that position, we have some problems because we have only Jorginho.

“In my opinion, Kovacic could become a very good central midfielder. Of course, he is not a defensive midfielder (at the moment) but, as you know, in that position I prefer a very technical player.

“In the last match, Jorginho touched 161 balls. So, for us, it’s very important for us to have big quality in that position. Big quality not for the last pass, but big quality in terms of moving the ball.”

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