The midfielder turned down a move to AC Milan on transfer deadline day and his future is now very much uncertain for both club and country
He was a player that every club wanted in their team. Just a few years ago, Cesc Fabregas was one of football's hottest properties: pursued by both Barcelona and Real Madrid, the midfielder could take his pick from Europe's elite. But now he is out of favour at Chelsea and also with Spain as his career hits its lowest ebb.
The move back to Barcelona never quite worked out for Cesc. After finally leaving Arsenal in 2011, he returned to the club where he had emerged as a youth player but found things tough in Pep Guardiola's final season, before the troubled tenures of both Tito Vilanova and Tata Martino. Although he was utilised in several different positions and also played through injury in his last year, the truth is he never quite lived up to expectations at Camp Nou.
Still, however, his stock remained high in England and a move to Chelsea was initially a success as he starred in the Blues' Premier League-winning campaign in 2014-15 - particularly in the first six months. After Christmas, for some reason, he always seems to fade, but this time the decline appears more long term and following a difficult second season at Stamford Bridge, he now faces an uncertain future under Antonio Conte.
Fabregas and Conte came face to face at Euro 2016, when Cesc was included in the Spain line-up to play Italy in the last 16, despite his poor performances throughout the tournament. The Italian coach will have been pleased, because the 29-year-old's lack of intensity (and that of the rest of the team) allowed the Azzurri to take control of the match and advance to the last eight.
Back at Chelsea, Cesc was sent off for a late lunge on Liverpool's Ragnar Klavan during the International Champions Cup and missed the next match against Real Madrid, finishing pre-season with just 129 minutes of action under his belt. And by the time the Premier League opener against West Ham came around, Conte favoured Oscar over the Spain midfielder.
An unused substitute in that 2-1 win, the 29-year-old played just 12 minutes in the next Premier League game against Watford, although his contribution was significant as he helped the Blues turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 win, setting up Diego Costa for a late winner with a pinpoint pass.
He then played all 90 minutes in the Capital One Cup clash against Bristol Rovers as Chelsea won 3-2, but was back on the bench for the 3-0 victory over Burnley, meaning he has played just 12 out of a possible 270 minutes so far in the Premier League this season.
That proves the player is not in Conte's plans for this new-look Chelsea, his style of play seemingly unsuited to the Italian's intense pressing philosophy, despite his obvious technical attributes.
And Fabregas, who has won over 100 caps for his country, was also left out of Julen Lopetegui's first Spain squad last week as the Basque opted for emerging talents like Saul Niguez and Marco Asensio, while also recalling Juan Mata and Javi Martinez.
As the transfer window drew to a close, Cesc was offered to a number of big clubs in Europe, but there was minimal interest in the Catalan from the top teams and Fabregas turned down a move to AC Milan on deadline day in order to fight for his place at Chelsea.
It is a battle that already appears lost and, for the first time in a career that has seen him win many of the game's greatest prizes, Fabregas is suddenly out of the picture for both club and country. It is a new low for a player who turns 30 in May and, unless he can revert the situation soon, he may have to consider a move again in January.