The long running transfer saga of the January transfer window was Enzo Fernandez. Chelsea made him a priority target to strengthen their midfield position, as it has been an area of weakness for the Blues this season. The former Benfica player was highly sought after, following an excellent World Cup campaign, that saw him break into the Argentina team that eventually lifted the trophy. Liverpool were heavily linked with the 22-year-old prior to his move to Stamford Bridge.
Although the eventual transfer fee was on the high side, it is difficult not to view this as a good signing by Chelsea. Fernandez has already proven himself on a world stage and in his early 20s, he has plenty of time to develop further. The potential is high and the Blues will be hoping that he grows into one of the best midfielders in the world.
After five matches for Chelsea, it would be unfair to judge him too much, but it is worth looking at how he has settled in. Fernandez has already established himself as a regular starter for Graham Potter.
The tenacity in Fernandez’s game is there for all to see. He is quick to press and enjoys a tackle. The Argentine has added a bite to Chelsea’s midfield. He is averaging 3.8 tackles and 2 interceptions per game. It has been an impressive start to life without the ball for the Argentine international.
Chelsea have been struggling for form as a team. They are still managing to dominate the ball in matches though, as shown by Fernandez’s number of passes. The former Benfica player is averaging 88.3 passes per game, at a completion rate of 89%. There is an assuredness in his game on possession.
One criticism would be his reading of the game in his defensive third. At times, he has made the incorrect decisions in his own third. That was shown during the game against Tottenham, as he rushed a clearance when Kepa Arrizabalaga was about to grab the ball. This eventually led to Spurs’ opening goal. The major error was made by the goalkeeper as he should have collected the initial shot, but it was compounded by a rush of blood from Fernandez. He will learn from that.
The best moment from Fernandez’s short time at Stamford Bridge so far came in the match against West Ham United. The assist for Joao Felix was excellent and underlined the passing range that Fernandez has. He will be able to chip in with assists from deep, as shown by his form in Portugal. In the league for Benfica, he had five assists this season. This is a part of his game that will be better shown when the team move into better form.
There has been continued struggles for Chelsea, since the January transfer spend. However, Fernandez has been one of the better performers since his debut and it is easy to see why the club pushed to sign him. He looks like he can settle in and be a huge part of the club’s long term future. The challenge is for the rest of the team to step up to his level, as he already looks to be a cut above on the pitch.
Stats taken from Whoscored