Enzo Fernandez is a dynamic right-footed central midfielder who can play as a No.6, No.8, or a even a No.10. He is a complete midfielder!!!
Chelsea have signed midfielder Enzo Fernandez from Benfica for a club-record £106.8m. The 22-year-old only joined Benfica last summer for €10m (£8.8m).
His transfer fee is the highest in British football history, surpassing the £100m Manchester City paid for Jack Grealish from Aston Villa 18 months ago.
Fernandez came to limelight at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. He scored one goal during the tournament and won the tournament’s Young Player Award as Argentina became world champions.
Here, FootballOrbit brings all you need to know about Chelsea’s new record transfer signing.
Enzo Jeremías Fernández was born on the 17th of January 2001 in San Martín, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
He started playing football at a very young age, playing for local side Club La Recova — before joining River Plate in 2006 at the age of 5.
“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 Plate] 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.”Pablo Esquivel, the River Plate scout who discovered Fernandez at the age of 5.
After 13 years spent progressing through the ranks at River Plate, Fernández got promoted into the club’s first-team in 2019. He made his first-team debut in March 2020.
Due to limited game time, Enzo was loaned to fellow Argentine top-flight club Defensa y Justicia in 2020/21.
Defensa y Justicia
He was handed his Defensa debut by manager Hernán Crespo (an ex-Chelsea player) in a 3-0 win over Delfín in the Copa Libertadores.
Despite initially not being a starter, Fernández’s performances impressed his manager and eventually earned a place in the team.
He helped Defensa win the 2020 Copa Sudamericana and the 2021 Recopa Sudamericana — his first senior career titles.
Enzo Fernandez returns to River Plate
After impressing on loan, he returned to River Plate during the 2021/22 season at the request of manager Marcelo Gallardo.
He immediately became a starter at River and registered his first goal and assist for the club in a 2-0 win over Vélez Sarsfield in August.
In December 2021, he extended his contract with the Argentine giants to 2025.
Following a promising start to the 2022 season — which he scored 10 goals and provided 6 assists in 28 games — Fernández was named the best footballer in Argentina.
Furthermore, he won the 2021 Argentine Primera Division title with River Plate.
His exploits caught the attention of a number of European clubs.
Wolverhampton Wanderers, AC Milan and Benfica showed the most interest in securing Fernandez’s signature, with reportedly Wolves leading the race.
But, the youngster made it clear that even if he was to agree a transfer away from River; he wouldn’t be joining up with his new club until after the Copa Libertadores had finished.
Knowing that if River reach the last round of the competition, Fernandez wouldn’t be joining them until at least November; Wolves pulled out of the deal.
Benfica swooped in, undeterred by Fernández’s potentially late arrival to the Estádio da Luz.
In June 2022, Benfica completed the signing of Enzo Fernandez on a €10million (£8.8m) deal — with River Plate inserting a 25% sell-on clause.
The player was to remain at River until the end of the club’s Copa Libertadores campaign.
But just two weeks after agreeing the deal, River were dumped out in shock fashion in the first knockout round by Vélez Sarsfield.
Despite Benfica bracing themselves for their new midfielder to arrive at the back end of 2022, they had their man in July!
So highly-rated did Benfica regard Enzo that they handed him their iconic number 13 shirt — previously worn by club legend, Eusébio.
Fernandez made his Benfica debut on the 2nd of August 2022 and scored on his debut.
Furthermore, he scored in Benfica’s next two matches. His impressive performances helped Benfica record 5 consecutive wins and 3 clean sheets.
Subsequently, Enzo was named the Primeira Liga Midfielder of the Month in August, October and November.
The Argentine became an integral part of a Benfica side that was leading the Primeira Liga, qualified for the Champions League knockout stages (topped their group ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus) and remained unbeaten!!!
His meteoric rise saw him record 8 goals across 22 games for the Eagles.
Moreover, Fernández’s impressive performances as Argentina won the 2022 FIFA World Cup made him become one of the most sought-after midfielders in Europe.
Unsurprisingly, top clubs started vying for his signature. But Benfica remained adamant that the player wouldn’t be sold for anything less than his €120m release clause.
On deadline day of the January 2023 transfer window, Chelsea signed Enzo Fernandez in a club-record deal worth £106.8m ($131m/€121m).
He agreed to a 8-and-a-half-year contract, valid until 2031.
The fee paid by Chelsea is now a British-record transfer deal, but Benfica only received an initial £30 million installment which will be followed by five further payments.
In addition, River Plate will get €30m (£26.7m) from the transfer fee because of an agreement in their sale of Fernandez to Benfica in June 2022 which included a 25% sell-on clause.
The Premier League’s Top 6 Most Expensive Transfers:
¶Enzo Fernandez — Benfica to Chelsea, January 2023 (£106.8m).
¶Jack Grealish — Aston Villa to Manchester City, summer 2021 (£100m).
¶Romelu Lukaku — Inter Milan to Chelsea, summer 2021 (£97.5m).
¶Romelu Lukaku — Everton to Manchester United, summer 2017 (£90m)
¶Paul Pogba — Juventus to Manchester United, summer 2016 (£89m).
¶Mykhailo Mudryk — Shakhtar Donetsk to Chelsea, January 2022 (£88.5m).
Moreso, apart from being the most expensive signing in Premier League history; Fernandez also becomes the most expensive midfielder in history, as well as the most expensive Argentinian footballer ever.
In fact, only 5 players (Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho and Joao Felix) have commanded a bigger transfer fee than Chelsea’s new club-record signing.
Having previously played for the U-18 side, Enzo Fernandez made his senior international debut for Argentina in a 3-0 win over Honduras in September 2022.
Due to his dazzling displays for Benfica, he was named in Argentina’s 26-man squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
In Argentina’s all-important 2nd group stage match against Mexico, Fernández came on for Guido Rodríguez in the 57th and scored his first international goal with a sensational strike as Argentina prevailed 2-0.
In doing so, he became the second youngest player ever (only behind Lionel Messi) to score a World Cup goal for Argentina at 21 years, 10 months and 13 days old.
But in the round of 16 game against Australia, Fernández set an unwanted record. He scored an own goal to become the youngest own goal scorer for Argentina at the World Cup.
Argentina eventually beat Australia 2-1 though.
Fernandez started started in the final against France, where Argentina won the World Cup 4-2 on penalties.
His performances saw him named as the Best Young Player of the Tournament.
Enzo’s stats at the 2022 World Cup:
— Matches: 7
— Touches: 558
— Pass accuracy: 87.6%
— Chances created: 6
— Shots: 8
— Goals: 1
— Expected goals: 0.30
— Recoveries: 39
Playing style of Enzo Fernandez
Enzo Fernandez is a dynamic right-footed central midfielder who can play as a No.6, No.8, or a even a No.10. He is a complete midfielder who can literally do it all.
He cherishes being deployed in a deep-seated playmaking role — where he will be responsible for breaking up play, dictating the tempo and recycling possession.
Furthermore, the 22-year-old is very combative in his midfield duels, aggressive defensively and protects space as well as his backline efficiently.
He usually makes quick short passes, accurate long passes, and lobbed balls. He also boasts of a very good first pass and has immaculate patience when moving the ball around the pitch.
When he has possession in wider areas, Fernández is excellent at hitting precise, cross-field switch balls to the opposite winger.
The Argentine shows his best qualities when played in central midfield, where he has the freedom to move and be creative in the attacking third while also helping out with defensive midfield duties.
At Benfica, Enzo is usually used as part of a double-pivot in midfield — often alongside Florentino Luís — in Roger Schmidt’s 4-2-3-1 formation.
Without the ball, he possesses great defensive attributes and instincts and can often be found using his intensity and aggression to win the ball back for his side.
However, his superb quality on the ball means that he is also a real threat in possession and is a midfielder who can bring Chelsea up the pitch and into the attacking third through the use of his expansive passing range.
Though, he needs to work on his discipline and his temperament that often leaves him on the verge of receiving a red card during matches.
Way forward for Chelsea
The January 2023 transfer for Chelsea is one of the busiest winter periods any club has ever had.
Furthermore, the total figures that Chelsea spent on transfer in 2022/23 is €611.49m — the most by any club in a single season.
It eclipses the previous record held by Barcelona, who spent €380m in 2017/18.
Chelsea’s urgently need their new recruits to hit the ground running immediately in order for the Blues to finish the season strongly.