By his own admission unable to play every game, Monaco veteran Cesc Fabregas is still poised to play a vital role for 2021's form club as their Ligue 1 Uber Eats title bid grows stronger by the week.
Fabregas started the Round 31 match against Metz, his first Ligue 1 start since November, and scored a penalty in the 4-0 home win. Already a Liga champion with Barcelona, a Premier League champion twice with Chelsea and a World Cup winner with Spain in 2010, could the 33-year-old add a Ligue 1 medal to his impressive collection, having already claimed 16 trophies for club and country?
The legs may not be what they once were - and a hilarious video released by the club suggests the midfielder is not the man you want steering you around a building site - yet Fabregas exerts a huge influence on and off the pitch, driving coach Niko Kovac's playing philosophy and acting as a guide for the Principality club's young and talented squad.
Having made his Arsenal debut as a 16-year-old, Fabregas knows all about starring as a youngster and is passing on his experience. After the Metz win, he said: "I can't play every game. I know that I won't play all the time, but it's a great personal apprenticeship for me to have the role I have with the young players. There are lots of talented players in this team."
Kovac: "He will definitely be a coach in the future"
Kovac added: "The young players learn a lot from him. With Cesc there, they learn how to play with and without the ball. They see what they need to do on and off the pitch. He's an intelligent man and will definitely be a coach in the future."
Signed by his former Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry in January 2019, Fabregas has been at the club at a turbulent time, taking in Leonardo Jardim's second spell, Robert Moreno's brief time in charge and now the resurgence under Kovac. Overall, Fabregas has disappointed since joining yet has definitely had his moments, none greater than a match-changing cameo in the 3-2 home win over champions Paris Saint-Germain, a game in which he both scored and provided an assist.
A magnificent penalty in Monaco's shootout win over Metz in the Coupe de France on Tuesday evening was another reminder of the Spaniard's enduring quality, his talent honed by having mixed with the best from an early age.
"Now it's my turn to bring the young players under my wing"
Fabregas said: "I must pass on my experience to the younger players. When I arrived at Arsenal at the age of 16 I was alongside more experienced players such as Dennis Bergkamp, who was 33 or 34, while Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira were also there. They brought a lot to me. The wheel has turned now, and now it's my turn to bring the young players under my wing. I like helping them and see them progress. They ask questions of me and for me it's a pleasure being alongside them. I want to prove to the coach that I can play, no matter the position. I'm learning too as a person."