With Enzo Fernandez having completed his transfer to Chelsea, we tell his story so far…
Where is Enzo Fernandez from?
Born in San Martin on the outskirts of Buenos Aires in January 2001, Enzo Fernandez joined River Plate aged just five, having stood out playing for his local team Club La Recova. His father had named him after Enzo Francescoli, a legendary former River midfielder, so the move so early in his life had extra poignancy.
What position does Enzo Fernandez play?
Always a central midfielder, Fernandez progressed through River’s fabled academy system and was called up to the reserve squad early in 2019. He soon played his first game at that level, and within days took another significant step in his fledgling senior career, making River’s first-team bench for their defeat to Patronato barely a week after his 18th birthday.
River manager Marcelo Gallardo carefully managed his development and waited until March 2020 before handing him his River debut in a Copa Libertadores defeat to LDU Quito. Soon after, Gallardo advised Fernandez to go out on loan to gain experience. He duly joined Hernan Crespo’s Defensa y Justicia.
Fernandez’s nine months at one of Buenos Aires’ smaller clubs proved a major success. He was able to adapt to the rigours of top-flight Argentinean football, putting in extra hours after training to improve his physicality.
On the pitch he quickly earned his place in the starting XI, showcasing his technical ability under former Chelsea striker Crespo. As his fitness and flexibility improved, so did his recovery skills in the middle of the park, suiting Defensa y Justicia’s pressing style.
What trophies has Enzo Fernandez won?
Fernandez and the Hawks’ star burned brightest in the Copa Sudamericana, South America’s equivalent of the Europa League. He started both legs of a 4-2 aggregate semi-final success over Chile’s Coquimbo Unido in January 2021, and then shone in the final against Argentinean rivals Lanus. Defensa y Justicia won 3-0, securing their first honour in a generation, and first ever in continental competition.
A second international triumph swiftly followed. Fernandez played throughout both legs of the Recopa Sudamericana, CONMEBOL’s answer to the UEFA Super Cup. Against Copa Libertadores champions Palmeiras, Fernandez more than held his own as Defensa y Justicia overturned a 3-1 aggregate deficit to take the showpiece to penalties. Fernandez made no mistake with his.
Fernandez’s performances had caught the eye and Gallardo ended his loan, which was due to run until December 2021, early. He returned to River, who were flying high in the table, in July, and went straight into their starting XI.
Fernandez scored his first goal for his boyhood club against Velez Sarsfield in August 2021, providing an assist in the same game. River won the league title with three games to spare, with Fernandez featuring 15 times in all. He had his third winners’ medal in the same calendar year.
If 2021 was Fernandez’s breakout year in South American football, then 2022 was when he announced himself to the world.
In the first half of the year his game reached a new level. Fernandez scored 10 goals and registered six assists in 26 appearances for River in league and cup, cementing himself as the box-to-box midfielder he had always aspired to be.
Unsurprisingly, his performances did not go unnoticed in Europe, and after much speculation in the summer he joined Benfica, a club renowned for importing South American starlets.
Fernandez, who turned 22 earlier this month, took no time adapting to his new surroundings. Deployed in the double pivot alongside the more defensively-minded Florentino Luis, Fernandez’s creative capabilities have stood out in the Liga Nos, along with his tenacity.
So impressive were his performances he was named the league’s best midfielder in August, October and November. Prior to the World Cup – more on that later – Fernandez played 24 times for Benfica, scoring three goals and laying on five more as the Eagles went undefeated in the league and in Europe. They finished first in their Champions League group, above PSG and Juventus, with Fernandez finding himself right at home in Europe’s top competition.
How many goals has Enzo Fernandez scored and how many games did he play for Benfica?
He leaves Benfica with 29 appearances, four goals and seven assists to his name.
How many international caps does Enzo Fernandez have?
Enzo was named in Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina squad for a pair of friendlies in September, coming off the bench in wins against Honduras and Jamaica to earn the first two of 10 caps for his country. A World Cup call-up was inevitable.
It was Fernandez’s introduction off the bench in Argentina’s second game in Qatar, against Mexico, that helped spring them into life following a shock reverse to Saudi Arabia. He whipped in a superb goal on the angle after dummying past his defender to put the seal on a 2-0 win from which Scaloni’s side never looked back.
Fernandez started the next game, setting up a goal for Julian Alvarez as Argentina beat Poland, and he didn’t miss a minute of their stunning knockout campaign. Positioned at the base of Argentina’s midfield trio, Fernandez’s tactical acumen, endless energy and technical proficiency was not only crucial in La Albiceleste’s first glory on the global stage since 1986; it also won him the FIFA Young Player Award.
Only our own Mateo Kovacic and Hakim Ziyech were successful with more tackles than Fernandez, and his pass success rate of 88 per cent in the engine room ranked higher than most. No wonder Lionel Messi described him as a ‘spectacular’ player.
How old is Enzo Fernandez?
Fernandez was born on 17 January 2001, so he recently turned 22 years old.
How tall is Enzo Fernandez?
Enzo Fernandez stands at 1.78m tall, or 5ft 10in.
What squad number does Enzo Fernandez wear?
Fernandez’s shirt number will be announced soon. Most recently at Benfica he wore the no.13 shirt.