LONDON -- Chelsea expect Saturday's FA Cup third round tie against Nottingham Forest to be Cesc Fabregas' final appearance for the club as he closes in on a January move to Monaco, sources have told ESPN FC.
Fabregas, 31, came off the bench in Wednesday's goalless draw with Southampton to play his 500th career game in English club football -- and his 350th in the Premier League -- before waving to Stamford Bridge at the final whistle in what appeared to be intended as a goodbye gesture.
After the match, Fabregas confirmed on social media he will play against Forest on Saturday, but Chelsea believe that will be his final outing before leaving Stamford Bridge to join Monaco on a cut-price deal as his contract with the Blues expires at the end of the season.
Posting on Twitter and Instagram, Fabregas said: "500 games in English football, the best and most competitive football in the world, what a ride it has been! A proper dream come true to reach these numbers. Another proud moment in my career. I will see you all at the Bridge on Saturday."
Former Arsenal captain Fabregas has become a popular figure at Chelsea since joining from Barcelona in the summer of 2014, serving as the creative hub for two Premier League title-winning teams under Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte and also lifting the FA Cup and League Cup.
Monaco, managed by Fabregas' former Gunners teammate Thierry Henry, are believed to have offered a three-and-a-half-year contract and are keen to bring him in as soon as possible to help in their bid to avoid ending a disastrous campaign with relegation from Ligue 1.
Chelsea were unwilling to depart from their policy of only offering one-year extensions to players over the age of 30 for Fabregas, who is in the final months of his deal at Stamford Bridge.
Maurizio Sarri has repeatedly stated that he regards Fabregas as the only player in his squad technically equipped to cover for Jorginho, and so the Spaniard's departure could force Chelsea into the January market for a new midfielder.
Speaking about Fabregas last week, Sarri said: "In this position we have only two players, Jorginho and Fabregas, so for me it would be really a problem without Cesc. I want him to stay, [but] I don't know the final decision of Cesc and the club of course.
"But for me it's very important and if Cesc will go I think that we need to buy another player, and it's not easy because, technically, Cesc is a very important player.
"And I think that in the market it's very difficult to find a player with his characteristics."