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Stats point to former Barcelona star Fabregas being the signing of the season for title-chasing Blues

The number on his back may be familiar, but the hairstyle has changed, the face is slightly more weathered, and the colour is certainly different for Cesc Fabregas.

Watching Fabregas in his Number 4 blue shirt will take some getting used to, but it should not take the midfielder long to underline why Chelsea have secured arguably the coup of the summer.

At £27million, Fabregas was cheaper than Alexis Sanchez, Diego Costa, Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera. He cost Chelsea only £2million more than Liverpool paid Southampton for Adam Lallana.

And yet Fabregas returns to England with 151 Barcelona appearances under his belt, 10 more than Sanchez over the same period of time, and 91 caps for Spain. Manchester United signing Herrera is yet to play for the national team's senior side. Crucially, Fabregas also knows exactly what to expect when the Premier League season kicks off this weekend. In eight years at Arsenal, he made 212 top-flight appearances, scoring 35 goals and chalking up 77 assists.

It is easy to think that Fabregas must have failed at Barca to have returned to England so soon, but the figures suggest otherwise. Last season was his best in La Liga for assists, with 13, while only goalkeeper Victor Valdes started more league games in 2012-13. During that campaign, Fabregas was second in the Barca scoring charts behind Lionel Messi and third behind Andres Iniesta and Messi for the player with the most assists.

United wanted to pay pounds 35?million to take Fabregas to Old Trafford last summer, but Gerardo Martino promised him a prominent role in his Barcelona side. Another change of coach and the necessity to fund the Luis Suarez transfer moved the goalposts.

"It's true that I have been playing in different positions at Barcelona and I learnt a lot from this as well - it made me a more complete footballer," Fabregas said. "However, I know my place is in midfield - I want to play there and I think the coach (Jose Mourinho, left) knows that.

"This is where I think I can give my best. It doesn't matter if I'm just in front of the defence or playing behind the strikers, they are two positions I really enjoy," he said.

"When I was younger, I always said that assisting was my best asset and the one that I enjoyed the most. I'm happy I'm very consistent in my numbers season after season but, now that I score more goals and have become more of a goalscorer, I really enjoy that, too. I feel to have a good balance between knowing when to assist and when to go forward to score goals is important. I think I'm finding it now."

It seemed a vaguely ridiculous public relations stunt when Arsenal negotiated a buy-back clause in the transfer of Fabregas to Barca, but the assumption had always been he would finish his career at the Nou Camp or the Emirates.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho spotted an opportunity when it became clear the Spanish club needed to raise cash to chase their own targets and claimed it took him only 20 minutes to convince Fabregas to take a new turn in his career.

In reality, the key meeting between Mourinho and Fabregas lasted more like an hour with the Portuguese telling the player that he would be the leader of a Chelsea team that can be successful for five years.

Actions often speak louder than words, however, and the fact Mourinho missed watching his son's final game of the season to try to clinch the deal left a lasting impression on 27-year-old Fabregas.

"I thought I'm at the right age, I wanted a change and I looked at all the offers I had and, - after speaking to the coach - this was the best decision," Fabregas said. "My ambitions are to win absolutely everything. The more you win, the more you want to win, although last season Chelsea was not able to lift any trophies, so this season we have to perform well."

Mourinho sees Fabregas as the man who can knit his team together.

Incredibly, Chelsea last season attempted fewer through-balls for their strikers than relegated Norwich and fewer than their title rivals. They expect Fabregas to address that problem. Manchester City's David Silva played the most through-balls per game last term, but Fabregas beat his 0.59 average in each of his last five seasons for Barcelona and Arsenal.

Silva also made the most key passes per Premier League game last season with an average of 3.2. Fabregas bettered that figure in 2009-10 and was slightly behind it in 2010-11.