Cesc Fabregas has warned Chelsea to beware of his old friend Andres Iniesta’s timeless “intelligence” ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Barcelona.
Despite his enduring friendship with Iniesta, Fabregas insisted he will harbour no split loyalties when facing his home town club at Stamford Bridge in the round-of-16 first-leg encounter.
“He’s still good; for this type of player age doesn’t really matter,” said Fabregas, of the 123-cap, 33-year-old Iniesta. “Once you have a talent, once you have the class that he and so many other ‘big’ players have, they can play until their late 30s.
“Physically, it’s important, obviously because the game nowadays depends a lot on that. But when you have the quality, when you have the intelligence, it can sometimes compensate.”
Asked if Iniesta was his idol growing up, the 30-year-old Fabregas replied: “You’re making him very old! He’s only three years older than me.
“We played with the Spain under-21s together. We’ve played together from when I was 18 years old.
I never saw him as an ‘idol’ because we always played together. I saw him as a teammate. A person obviously that I admire, but in a different way from an idol I looked up to when I was young.
“I used to look up to Guardiola, because he was playing in my position; I used to love Luis Figo when he was at Barcelona. These two were probably the ones I looked up to most when I was little.
“But this generation of Spanish players, and not only Spanish players, in Barcelona has been fantastic.”