Enzo Fernandez is nothing short of a football sensation. This young and talented Argentine midfielder has been making waves in the world of football, and it’s no wonder why. Starting from his early days in the River Plate youth system, Enzo has consistently risen to the top. He returned from a loan spell to play a crucial role in River Plate’s league win, which earned him recognition among some of the biggest European clubs.
When Benfica signed the 21-year-old for a €10+8 million transfer fee, it was clear that Enzo was here to stay. He lived up to expectations and then some, becoming a world cup winner with Argentina and receiving the prestigious FIFA Young Player of the Tournament award. His impressive performances with Benfica even led them to top the group stage of the Champions League, which had powerhouses like PSG and Juventus.
Now, Enzo has signed with Chelsea in a historic transfer that broke records in the UK. This dazzling young star has been nothing but spectacular, rising to the top with lightning speed and leaving his mark on the world of football. Enzo Fernández is truly a force to be reckoned with. But what kind of a force is he exactly?
Enzo Fernández was utilized as a part of a double-pivot in midfield in Roger Schmidt’s 4-2-3-1 formation, usually playing in tandem with Florentino Luís. He is experienced as both an eight and a deeper-lying midfielder. He possesses the attributes of a “footballing chameleon,” exhibiting both defensive and offensive skills.
Without the ball, he demonstrates exceptional defensive instincts and uses his intensity and aggression to win the ball back for his team. When his team has the ball, the Argentine frequently drops short to receive it in a position that lies just ahead of or alongside the central defenders.
This movement serves to create a back three formation, freeing up the full-backs to advance. In this position, Enzo serves as a link between the full-back on his side and a winger who has rotated inside, providing creative options in the final third.
While on the ball, Enzo is confident in his ball-handling skills and is comfortable stepping out of defense. He demonstrates an ability to play vertical, line-breaking passes into midfield, which helps initiate attacking plays and stretch the opposition’s back line.
With these characteristics, it is easy to draw a few parallels between him and other players.
Xabi Alonso is often called the king of long balls, and this was because of his ultimate precision. He was able to execute accurate passes with incredible accuracy and precision, both over short and long distances. This made him a valuable asset for his teams, as he was able to launch swift counter-attacks and create opportunities for his forwards.
In addition to precision, Alonso also had an exceptional range. He was able to find a teammate from deep within his own half, or even further back, with a well-placed pass. This ability to launch a quick attack from deep positions was a crucial part of his game and added a new dimension to his team’s attacking play.
When Enzo plays as an 8, he shows he can mimic these actions to near perfection. In comparison to him, Enzo shows that he can pass from deep to the wings and switch the momentum of the play. He demonstrates a similar comfort on the ball and a similar expansive passing range, allowing him to bring his team up the pitch and initiate attacking plays. In addition to Xabi, he also showcases his versatility as a midfielder and is comfortable playing in a defensive role.
Luka Modric is widely regarded as one of the best playmakers in modern football. He has an incredible ability to find the final pass, which makes him a creative force for both club and country. Modric’s vision, awareness, and range of passing are unmatched, and he has a remarkable knack for picking out the key pass that unlocks the opposition’s defense.
Modric’s technical abilities and his vision make him a typical #10, a player who operates in the space between the midfield and the attack. He is often the player who sets the tempo for his team, dictating the flow of the game and making sure the ball moves quickly and efficiently through the midfield.
He is incredibly efficient with his dribbling, and he has the skill to carry the ball past opponents, creating space and time for his teammates. Modric’s work rate is also impressive, and he is a tireless runner, who covers a lot of ground on the pitch and helps his team both in attack and defense.
Despite being a deeper role of an 8, Enzo Fernandez can play as an excellent 10. He shows the same knack for finding the final pass and for breaking defensive lines. He is adept at moving the ball up and can do this while covering back in defense.
Here is a video of Enzo nailing both Xabi’s long balls and Modric’s final pass. He is an anomaly that is doing everything he can from that central midfield.
For those who think highlight reels don’t say the whole story and tend to trust more in stats, here is a comparison of Enzo with those most like him right now – Toni Kroos, who replaced Xabi at Madrid, and Luka Modric himself.
Here is how his 2022-23 stats line up against the two. Keep in mind he was playing in the Portuguese League while the other two have been playing in La Liga in retirement age.
It is clear to see he is almost identical to the two stars. He passes with nearly identical frequency and accuracy, while also maintaining very similar defensive stats. If he develops to be as good as either of them, things could be looking very scary for opponents at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea’s central midfield is facing some challenges, with injuries and individual weaknesses affecting the team’s performance. Mateo Kovacic brings good ball-carrying skills, but his passing range is limited. Jorginho, who recently joined Arsenal, has been a reliable passer but lacks mobility. Meanwhile, Conor Gallagher provides energy in defense but still needs improvement in other areas.
To improve their attack, Chelsea needs a central midfield combination that can bring more creativity. If you think of the qualities of a central midfielder as a triangle, with Jorginho as the passer, Kovacic as the dribbler, and Gallagher as the energetic defender, then Enzo Fernandez fits right in between all three.
He brings a well-rounded set of skills to the midfield, offering both passing and dribbling abilities, as well as energy in defense. With Jorginho gone, Enzo could fill his space and provide even more.