Cesc Fabregas has been mightily impressed by the way former team-mate Frank Lampard has started his managerial career as talk of a Chelsea return continues.
Maurizio Sarri endured a topsy-turvy first season at the helm of the west London club, whom he led to the Carabao Cup final, a third-place finish in the Premier League and Europa League glory.
The Italian is now wanted by perennial Serie A champions Juventus, with Chelsea great Lampard the bookmakers’ favourite to replace him should he leave.
The club’s all-time top scorer led Derby to the Sky Bet Championship play-off final in his first season in management and, while they fell just short of promotion, former Blues midfielder Fabregas likes what he has seen.
“I think he has done a really impressive job,” the Spaniard told Football Paradise. “It’s his first ever job. He changed many things.
“I saw him in Russia with the BBC (when working at the World Cup) and he had a very difficult squad, an older squad full of players at the end of their contracts as well.
“He renewed completely the squad, took on young players.
“He played a really aggressive style, attacking football. Really for a first ever job, I think he has done really good.”
While Fabregas appreciates the work Lampard has done from afar, the midfielder has seen first-hand how Sarri operated at Chelsea.
The 32-year-old started the 2018-19 season with the Blues and moved to Monaco in January, having found opportunities hard to come by under the Italian.
“Well, he is a manager with his own ideas and he doesn’t move from them much,” Fabregas said of Sarri.
“He has an idea of how he wants to play and the football that he really wants to play. He doesn’t move from it.
“No matter what you tell him, no matter what you advise him, no matter what your opinion is, he will never change.
“He is very superstitious, he is very stubborn in this way.
“But he did it the way he likes it. He has his own vision of football and, in the end, he is where he is with it and you have to respect that.”
Fabregas departed Chelsea as one of the most respected midfielders in Premier League history, having also shone for Arsenal before a stint at boyhood club Barcelona.
The 32-year-old now plies his trade for Monaco, who he is confident will push for Champions League qualification next season after just avoiding relegation from Ligue 1.
“It has been very tough, to be honest,” Fabregas said.
“People don’t talk about it a lot because it’s another league, it’s maybe a smaller league, but the challenge was so difficult.
“When I first arrived at Monaco in mid-January, the team had 13 points, they were second last.
“They were losing basically week in, week out and it looked like there was no way out.
“But, really, we made it in the end, we suffered a lot, we worked really hard and a new great experience for me.
“Now when I retire I can really say I lived every kind of experience – at the top and at the bottom.”
Asked if he felt more exciting times lie ahead next season, the Spaniard added: “Definitely, next season the target is to make the Champions League.
“The club have already made it very clear. We need to be top two, top three.
“I still want to compete and go back to the Champions League.”
:: Cesc Fabregas was speaking on behalf of Amstel, Official Partners of the Europa League. For more information please visit https://www.amstelbier.co.uk