Cesc Fabregas is a genius and can be Chelsea’s Andrea Pirlo, according to manager Antonio Conte.
Pirlo was Conte’s midfield linchpin for Juventus and Italy.
The Chelsea boss believes Fabregas has the same speed of thought.
“Cesc is a top player and is a genius at football. I can talk in the same way about Andrea Pirlo,” Conte said.
“Cesc if he doesn’t run 100 metres in 10 seconds, I can allow him this, because he’s a genius with the ball. His velocity is in his mind.”
Yet unlike Pirlo, Fabregas has been restricted to mainly substitute appearances this season.
Conte underlined the Spain international’s importance and pointed to the form of N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic, his chosen central midfield players.
But Sunday’s trip to Burnley, plus the apparently favourable forthcoming fixture list, could present Fabregas with a chance to stake his claim for more regular action.
“Sometimes you must make the decision and to look the balance of the team,” Conte added.
“And sometimes you must make different decisions. For me Cesc is an important player.
“And I try to put him always in the best condition to give us his best for the team.
“Don’t forget in his place is playing Kante. A lot of people spoke that he is the best player in the league.
“Then is Matic that I think is playing in an outstanding way.
“When you have two players in front (of you) playing so well it’s not easy.
“It’s the same for Willian and Pedro. For me, sometimes it’s very difficult to sleep and to make the best decision.
“But I prefer to have this type of problem. The most important thing is these players are totally involved in the team.
“Cesc is playing with us and is very important for the team.”
Fabregas scored Chelsea’s third in last week’s 3-1 win against his former club Arsenal.
Conte had earlier celebrated Eden Hazard’s solo second by leaping into the crowd by his technical area, which he prowls throughout a game and the Italian admits his employers should be worried only if his enthusiasm wanes.
He said: “Sometimes when you feel that you that there is a particular moment of the season or to celebrate a goal, it’s very difficult for me to keep this passion (hidden).
“Everyone has their own style. But I think that… I have great passion for football.
“In the moment you see me, that I stay seated, you must be worried.
“Above all my club must be worried, because I think I finished my passion.”
In a season which has seen Premier League bosses scrutinised and at times banned for abusing officials, Conte’s passion has remained under control.
He added: “It’s always important to have great respect for the fourth official, for the referee, for the opponents, for the other manager.
“It’s important to have good enthusiasm, good passion and to transfer this passion only in the right way to your players, your staff, your fans.”