Enzo Fernandez did not make his senior worldwide debut till September 2022. Within a number of months he was a starter and World Cup winner with Argentina. The 22-year-old midfielder’s ascent to the highest has been speedy, even by fashionable soccer’s requirements, and it was solely final summer time that Benfica signed him from River Plate for round €14 million. Now Chelsea have made him a Premier League-record switch, and some of the costly gamers on the earth, with a €121m switch.
– Sources: Chelsea signal Fernandez for document charge
Fernandez’s impression has been nothing in need of sensational. He made his River Plate debut in 2019, moved on mortgage to Defensa y Justicia a 12 months later and returned to impress beneath supervisor Marcelo Gallardo with 10 objectives in 28 video games for River in 2022.
Benfica snapped him up in the summertime of 2022 and gave him the No. 13 shirt beforehand worn by membership legend Eusebio. He netted 4 objectives and bagged seven assists in 29 video games, and was named the best midfielder in Portugal’s top flight by Liga BWIN head coaches in August, October and November. He additionally helped the membership to high their UEFA Champions League group forward of Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus and attain the knockout phases.
But it was with Argentina the place Fernandez made the largest waves. Having beforehand performed for the under-18 facet, the midfielder made his senior debut in a 3-0 win over Honduras in September 2022 and was named in Lionel Scaloni’s 26-man squad for the 2022 World Cup in November.
Incredibly, he settled into worldwide soccer virtually instantly and from the ultimate group-stage sport vs. Poland on, he cemented his place within the first XI. Going on to elevate the trophy, Fernandez additionally picked up the FIFA Young Player Award for the event.
With a €120m launch clause in his contract, Chelsea made the transfer to safe his signature forward of their rivals on deadline day. So what can we count on from him going ahead? ESPN digs into the information with former scout Tor-Kristian Karlsen.
A right-footed central midfielder, he was deployed as a part of a “double-pivot” for Benfica in Roger Schmidt’s 4-2-3-1 formation, however he is fulfilled quite a few roles throughout his profession.
When assessing a central midfielder’s expertise, there’s often one particular factor that stands out. Are they a crisp, energetic passer who dictates the circulation of the ball? A brilliantly forceful ball-carrying No. 8 in a position to drift previous opponents in midfield whereas nonetheless in charge of the ball? Or are they extra of a playmaker or artistic genius who, in a flash of inspiration, excels at feeding the ahead gamers within the final third. How in regards to the tidy, dynamic No. 6 in a position to regain possession, efficiently evade stress and feed a well-positioned teammate?
Well, Fernandez is all that … plus a bit extra. And therein lays the tough nature of labelling him: he is so full that it is laborious to place him in an outlined positional field. — Karlsen.
By the numbers
Fernandez’s senior worldwide profession is solely 10 video games previous to this point, however he made a big effect in serving to Argentina win the 2022 World Cup and had extra whole touches than Lionel Messi (524).
Stats on the 2022 World Cup
– Matches: 7
– Touches: 558
– Pass accuracy: 87.6%
– Chances created: 6
– Shots: 8
– Goals: 1
– Expected objectives: 0.30
– Recoveries: 39
It is the number of his expertise and mastery of them that has made Fernandez so engaging to Europe’s elite golf equipment, however one side of his sport that instantly attracts the attention is his dynamism. He’s exceptionally eager to get on the ball; at all times on the transfer, he is at all times obtainable to obtain a move and as soon as in possession, he retains shifting it sideways to keep up and speed up the movement of the sport. Then, when a extra intricate passing possibility is obtainable, he is blissful to go down the progressive route by selecting line-breaking balls in central attacking areas.
When receiving possession in wider areas, he is glorious at hitting exact, cross-field swap balls to the other winger and his common of near 100 passes per 90 minutes demonstrates his energetic nature and relentless impression on the sport.
The freedom he was typically given in Benfica’s midfield and his roaming nature might need restricted his direct aim involvements (specifically his assists totals), however when finding out the actions that led to a aim, it is typically Fernandez offering the second final move and if not, it is typical that these strikes originated from his early creativity.
well-developed appreciation of angles and house, plus the agility to maneuver earlier than being closed down. The similar high-level method is additionally often seen when he is testing the opposing goalkeeper from distance with highly effective, well-executed pictures.
The power and mentality that helps Fernandez be so concerned with the ball additionally renders him extremely environment friendly with out it. His potential to cowl floor shortly and observe again and defend means he is made for the trendy urgent sport. While solely 5-foot-10 and slight of construct, the 22-year-old goes an extended technique to compensate his bodily limitations with tenacity and character. He’s additionally a dedicated tackler too with a powerful 2.80 tackles per 90 minutes. — Karlsen
How he can enhance?
For a younger midfielder whose sport seems so uniquely full, any fast or apparent weaknesses are laborious to detect. He tailored to European soccer in a flash — not solely to home Portuguese soccer, but in addition to the Champions League as properly — whereas his impression in Argentina’s World Cup-winning marketing campaign was important.
It begs the query as as to whether he can maintain creating on the similar charge or if he is already reached his ceiling. The latter can be no disaster as his present stage nonetheless locations him among the many high central midfielders on the earth. But will he nonetheless be as environment friendly when the tempo of the sport is taken up a notch, the urgent is extra intense and there is much less time on the ball? — Karlsen
Enzo Fernandez describing his characteristics: “I am a player with good technique and passing. I have a good strike and good vision of play. Now I place more intensity when it comes to ball recovery. To play in the first division, each day you have bring something new to your game. That is why I train alone in the afternoon to be physically better.”
Pablo Esquivel, a River Plate scout who found Fernandez on the age of 5, instructed Clarin: “I was coaching a club in Villa Ballester and we faced Fernandez’s team. He was already very intelligent despite his youth. The next day I told the [River] youth coaches that there was a 2001-born player from San Martín who was playing amazingly well and they told me to go look for him. So, I started to investigate where he lived, found the house and introduced myself to his parents. I spoke with Raul and Marta, his parents, who are phenomenal. At that time they told me that they preferred to wait because he was very young and I told them that it was better for him to make the move from that moment on because it took a while to adapt to the big pitch. After so many twists and turns we were able to convince the parents and we took him to the club.”
Then-River coach Marcelo Gallardo, quoted in La Pagina Millonaria: “He has evolved a lot, I am very happy that he continues to maintain himself and it is not easy at 21 years old, he has a world ahead of him. When praise arrives, it is not easy to remain balanced, he has enormous potential to continue growing with the team [River]. He has been giving us many solutions and the most remarkable thing is that he knows that if he plays for the team he will continue to stand out.”
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni, quoted in La Pagina Millonaria in December: “He’s made huge progress and we are very happy with his contribution. It is what we expect. Enzo has done things well, we believe he can give more and that he has a huge future ahead of him.”
Argentina captain Lionel Messi, quoted by Mundo Deportivo during the World Cup: “He is impressive. He is a spectacular person, very humble and a very important player for us.”
He added to TyC: “I’m not surprised by what Enzo does because I know him and I see him train [with the national team] every day. I also played against him in the Champions League. He deserves it because he is a wonderful person, a very important player for us.”
How will he match at Chelsea?
Chelsea have struggled in midfield in current seasons and Fernandez is among the finest younger gamers round in that place. His passing and motion ought to unlock defences, whereas his willpower and stamina will assist the membership of their struggle for factors and league place. But will Graham Potter enable him as a lot freedom as he was granted at Benfica, or does he run the danger of being “boxed” right into a extra fastened place?
At 22, the stress of such an enormous switch charge may weigh heavy on his shoulders. Fernandez must hit the bottom operating to show that he is worthy of such an outlay.