Enzo Jeremías Fernández (born 17 January 2001), also known mononymously as Enzo, is an Argentine professional footballer who plays primarily as a central midfielder for Premier League club Chelsea and the Argentina national team.

Enzo Fernández
Fernández with Argentina at the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Personal information
Full name Enzo Jeremías Fernández[1]
Date of birth (2001-01-17) 17 January 2001 (age 23)[2]
Place of birth San Martín, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)[3]
Position(s) Midfielder
Team information
Current team
Chelsea
Number 8
Youth career
Club La Recova
2007–2019 River Plate
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2019–2022 River Plate 40 (10)
2020–2021Defensa y Justicia (loan) 14 (0)
2022–2023 Benfica 17 (1)
2023– Chelsea 46 (3)
International career
2019 Argentina U18 2 (0)
2022– Argentina 23 (4)
Medal record
Men's football
Representing  Argentina
FIFA World Cup
Winner 2022 Qatar
*Club domestic league appearances and goals, correct as of 22:04, 23 April 2024 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals, correct as of 22:50, 14 June 2024 (UTC)

As an academy graduate of River Plate, Fernández made his first-team debut for the club in 2019, before spending two seasons on loan with Defensa y Justicia. There, he enjoyed a successful campaign which culminated in him winning the Copa Sudamericana and Recopa Sudamericana, before returning to River Plate in 2021. Following his return, Fernández established himself as an integral player for the club, and won the 2021 Argentine Primera División. He joined Portuguese Primeira Liga side Benfica in the summer of 2022. Having played only six months for Benfica, he was purchased by Premier League club Chelsea in January 2023 for a British-record transfer fee.

An Argentine international, Fernández previously represented his country at under-18 level before making his senior international debut. He represented Argentina at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, playing an important role in helping his country win their third title, while also winning the tournament's Young Player Award.[4]

Club career

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River Plate

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Early career

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Born in San Martín, Buenos Aires, to Raúl and Marta; Fernández has four brothers, Seba, Rodri, Maxi and Gonza.[5] He was introduced to football at a young age, playing for a local side called Club La Recova, before joining River Plate.[5][6] It is unclear exactly when Fernández joined River Plate; in November 2019, in an interview for the River Plate website, he claimed to have joined the academy in 2005,[5] in September 2020, Argentine newspaper Clarín reported that he joined River in 2006,[6] while in February 2023, he claimed he was six when he joined in an interview for the Chelsea website, which would have most likely been in 2007.[7]

He progressed through the youth ranks, and was promoted into the club's first-team by manager Marcelo Gallardo on 27 January 2019, in a 3–1 home loss to Patronato in the Primera División, despite remaining on the bench.[3] He made his first-team debut on 4 March 2020, replacing Santiago Sosa in the 75th minute of a 3–0 loss to L.D.U. Quito in the Copa Libertadores.[3] In the weeks prior, he scored once, in the 6–1 thrashing of Libertad, in four games at the 2020 U-20 Copa Libertadores in Paraguay.[3]

2020–21: Loan to Defensa y Justicia

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Despite being sporadically used Fernández's manager advised him to leave the club on loan, in order to continue his development.[8] In August, Fernández was loaned to fellow top-flight club Defensa y Justicia.[3][9] He made his debut for the Halcón on 18 September by manager Hernán Crespo in a 3–0 win over Delfín in the Copa Libertadores.[3][10] Despite initially not being a starter, his performances impressed his manager and eventually he earned a place in the team, helping the club win the 2020 Copa Sudamericana, starting in the 3–0 win over fellow Argentinian side Lanús in the final, winning his first career title.[8]

2021–22: First-team breakthrough

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After impressing on loan, Fernández returned to River Plate, during the season at the request of manager Marcelo Gallardo, making his return on 15 July 2021, in the first leg of Copa Libertadores round-of-16, featuring in the 1–1 home draw to fellow Argentinian side Argentinos Juniors.[8] He immediately became a starter and on 14 August, he scored his first goal for the club and provided an assist in a 2–0 win over Vélez Sarsfield in the Primera División.[8] On 20 December, he agreed to a contract extension to 2025.[11] Following a promising start in the 2022 season, which he scored eight goals and provided six assists in 19 games, Fernández was named the best active footballer in Argentina, being subsequently scouted by a number of established European teams.[8][12][13][14]

Benfica

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Fernández with Benfica in 2022

On 23 June 2022, River Plate reached an agreement with Primeira Liga team Benfica for the transfer of Fernández for a €10 million fee for 75% of his economic rights plus €8 million in add-ons, but with the player remaining at River Plate until the end of the club's Copa Libertadores campaign.[15][16] Following River Plate's round of 16 exit from the Copa Libertadores, on 14 July, Benfica confirmed the deal,[17] giving Fernández the number 13 shirt, previously worn by club legend Eusébio.[18]

He made his debut for the club on 2 August, scoring his first goal for the club, a half-volley from outside the penalty area, in a 4–1 home win over Midtjylland in the first leg of the 2022–23 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round. He then scored in Benfica's next matches: a 4–0 home win over Arouca in the Primeira Liga, and a 3–1 away win over Midtjylland in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.[19] His impressive performances continued throughout the month and following a run of five consecutive wins and three clean sheets, he was named the Primeira Liga's Midfielder of the Month,[20] a feat which was repeated for the months of October and November.[21]

Chelsea

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Following Fernández's success internationally at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, he was linked with a move to Premier League teams Chelsea and Liverpool[22] in the January 2023 transfer window, however Benfica were adamant he wouldn't be sold for less than his €121m release clause.[23][24] Chelsea purchased Fernández for a package worth £106.8 million after a final agreement between the two clubs was reached on 31 January 2023. He signed an eight-and-a-half-year contract, valid until 2031.[25] Negotiations lasted for more than ten hours and were led by Chelsea co-owner Behdad Eghbali. The fee paid by Chelsea was, at the time, a British-record transfer deal. Benfica received an initial £30 million installment which will be followed by five further payments.[26][27]

Fernández made his debut in the Premier League on 3 February in a 0–0 home draw against Fulham, playing 90 minutes.[28] On 11 February, he registered an assist for the team's only goal in a 1–1 league draw at West Ham United.[29] He scored his first goal for Chelsea in a 2–1 win over AFC Wimbledon in the second round of the EFL Cup on 30 August 2023.[30] He scored his first Premier League goals on 3 December, by netting a brace in a 3–2 home victory over Brighton & Hove Albion.[31]

International career

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On 24 July 2019, Fernández was selected by the Argentina U18s manager Esteban Solari to represent his nation at the 2019 COTIF Tournament in Spain.[5][32] On 3 November 2021, he was called up by Argentina national team manager Lionel Scaloni for two 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Brazil and Uruguay.[8] He made his senior team debut on 24 September 2022, by coming on as a 64th-minute substitute for Leandro Paredes in a 3–0 win against Honduras.[33]

On 11 November, he was named in Argentina's 26-man squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.[34] After coming on for Guido Rodríguez in the 57th minute, on 26 November, Fernández scored his first international goal, closing Argentina's 2–0 group stage win against Mexico.[35] 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, ten months and thirteen days old.[36] On 3 December, he achieved a rather not so famous record, becoming the youngest own goal scorer in the history of Argentina in the FIFA World Cup, in the round of sixteen match against Australia, when his attempt to block Craig Goodwin's shot deflected into his team's net as Argentina beat Australia 2–1.[37] After defeating Croatia 3–0 in the semi-final, Fernández played in the final against France, where Argentina won the World Cup by a score of 4–2 on penalties after a 3-3 draw.[38] He was named the best young player of the tournament.[39]

Style of play

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Fernández playing for Argentina at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Fernández has been noted for his ability to break up play and recycle possession.

A versatile midfielder, Fernández usually plays as a Deep-lying playmaker, responsible for breaking up play, dictating the tempo, and recycling possession, while he is also a capable attacking midfielder. Although he prefers operating centrally, he can be seen occupying the left half-space assisted by a defensive midfield partner, like his former Benfica team-mate, Florentino Luís.[40]

Fernández plays quick short passes, accurate long passes, and lobbed balls. He is combative in his midfield duels, protects spaces and his backline efficiently, possesses good passing range and vision. He can dribble into dangerous territory or out of it. He thrives in receiving the ball in tight spaces and is press-resistant. He is adept at breaking defensive lines with his passes, playing through balls, as well as recycling possession in the midfield. Out of possession, Fernández looks to proactively disrupt opposition attack, anticipate and intercept passes.[41][42][43][44]

Personal life

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Fernández is named after three-time Copa América winner and former River Plate player Enzo Francescoli, due to his father Raúl's fascination with the Uruguayan. In an interview, he said that his favorite player is Lionel Messi.[6]

Fernández is married to fellow Argentine Valentina Cervantes, with whom he has a daughter, born on 4 March, 2020. In October 2023 their son, Benjamin, was born.[45]

Career statistics

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Club

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As of match played 23 April 2024[3][46]
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League National cup[a] League cup[b] Continental Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
River Plate 2019–20[3] Argentine Primera División 0 0 0 0 1[c] 0 1 0
2021[3] Argentine Primera División 20 2 0 0 3[c] 0 1[d] 0 24 2
2022[3] Argentine Primera División 20 8 0 0 6[c] 2 0 0 26 10
Total 40 10 0 0 0 0 10 2 1 0 51 12
Defensa y Justicia (loan) 2020–21[3] Argentine Primera División 4[nb 1] 0 2 0 1 0 10[e] 1 17 1
2021[3] Argentine Primera División 10 0 0 0 4[c] 0 2[f] 0 16 0
Total 14 0 2 0 1 0 14 1 2 0 33 1
Benfica 2022–23[3] Primeira Liga 17 1 3 1 0 0 9[g] 2 29 4
Chelsea 2022–23[3] Premier League 18 0 4[g] 0 22 0
2023–24[3] Premier League 28 3 5 2 7 2 40 7
Total 46 3 5 2 7 2 4 0 0 0 62 7
Career total 117 14 10 3 8 2 37 5 3 0 175 24
  1. ^ Includes Copa Argentina, Taça de Portugal, FA Cup
  2. ^ Includes Copa de la Liga Profesional, EFL Cup
  3. ^ a b c d Appearance(s) in Copa Libertadores
  4. ^ Appearance in Trofeo de Campeones
  5. ^ Four appearances in Copa Libertadores, six appearances and one goal in Copa Sudamericana
  6. ^ Appearances in Recopa Sudamericana
  7. ^ a b Appearances in UEFA Champions League

International

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As of match played 14 June 2024[47]
Appearances and goals by national team and year
National team Year Apps Goals
Argentina 2022 10 1
2023 9 2
2024 4 1
Total 23 4
As of match played 14 June 2024
Scores and results list Argentina's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Fernández goal.[47]
List of international goals scored by Enzo Fernández
No. Date Venue Cap Opponent Score Result Competition
1 26 November 2022 Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail, Qatar 5   Mexico 2–0 2–0 2022 FIFA World Cup
2 28 March 2023 Estadio Único Madre de Ciudades, Santiago del Estero, Argentina 12   Curaçao 4–0 7–0 Friendly
3 12 September 2023 Estadio Hernando Siles, La Paz, Bolivia 15   Bolivia 1–0 3–0 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification
4 22 March 2024 Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, United States 20   El Salvador 2–0 3–0 Friendly

Honours

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Defensa y Justicia

River Plate

Benfica

Chelsea

Argentina

Individual

Notes

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  1. ^ Soccerway counts Copa de la Liga Profesional appearances as league appearances.

References

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  1. ^ "2023/24 Premier League squad lists". Premier League. 13 September 2023. Retrieved 10 January 2024.
  2. ^ "FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – Squad list: Argentina (ARG)" (PDF). FIFA. 15 November 2022. p. 1. Retrieved 15 November 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "Argentina – E. Fernández". Soccerway. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  4. ^ "Argentina World Cup 2022 squad, predicted line-up versus France and star players". Goal.
  5. ^ a b c d Sargazazu, Rubén. "Enzo Fernández: 'En River tenés que tener una actitud mental ganadora'". River Plate. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Uria, Maximiliano (26 September 2020). "Enzo Fernández, el juvenil de River que brilla en la Copa Libertadores para Defensa y Justicia". Clarín. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  7. ^ "Enzo Fernandez interview – the Argentina years". chelseafc.com. 21 February 2023. Retrieved 21 February 2023.
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Enzo Fernández: o "herdeiro" de Francescoli que convence rapidamente". Mais Futebol. 23 June 2022. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  9. ^ "Fernández: "Esta oportunidad que me da Defensa es muy importante"". Vavel. 4 September 2020. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  10. ^ "Copa Libertadores. Enzo Fernández: la joya del semillero de River que se lució en Defensa y Justicia". La Nación. 24 September 2020. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  11. ^ "Enzo Fernández renewed until 2025 with a million-dollar clause". ole.com.ar. 20 December 2021.
  12. ^ "Enzo Fernández, con el ADN de River, despierta interés en Europa". 11 April 2022. Archived from the original on 6 May 2022. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  13. ^ "Reportagem: Tales Torraga – Na mira do Real e da Argentina para a Copa: Quem é o novo craque do River".
  14. ^ "Enzo Fernández, el que hace jugar y gritar a River". 24 April 2022.
  15. ^ "Oficial: Benfica tem princípio de acordo por Enzo Fernández". MaisFutebol (in Portuguese). 23 June 2022. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  16. ^ "Agora é oficial e com moldes diferentes do esperado: Benfica com 'princípio de acordo' para contratar Enzo Fernández". Observador (in Portuguese). 23 June 2022. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  17. ^ "Enzo Fernández is a Benfica player!". S.L. Benfica. 14 July 2022. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  18. ^ "Eusébio 'Ajudou' Enzo Fernández A Escolher O Número". A Bola (in Portuguese). 14 July 2022. Archived from the original on 17 July 2022. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  19. ^ "Enzo Fernández e o hygge à Benfica". Tribuna Expresso (in Portuguese). 9 August 2022. Retrieved 23 December 2022.
  20. ^ "Melhores de agosto: Enzo Fernández é o Médio do Mês da Liga Portugal bwin" (in Portuguese). Liga Portugal. 8 September 2022. Retrieved 9 September 2022.
  21. ^ "Melhores de outubro/novembro: Enzo distinguido com o Prémio VITO Médio do Mês da Liga Portugal bwin" (in Portuguese). Liga Portugal. 15 December 2022. Retrieved 23 December 2022.
  22. ^ "Liverpool transfer target Enzo Fernandez has club preference ahead of January window". The Mirror. 20 December 2022. Retrieved 24 December 2022.
  23. ^ "Chelsea plan renewed push to sign Enzo Fernández from Benfica". the Guardian. 23 January 2023. Retrieved 24 January 2023.
  24. ^ "Enzo Fernandez: Chelsea sign midfielder in £106.8m British-record transfer deal from Benfica". Sky Sports. Retrieved 1 February 2023.
  25. ^ "Chelsea transfer news: Fernandez transfers to Chelsea". www.chelseafc.com. Retrieved 3 February 2023.
  26. ^ "Chelsea sign Benfica's Fernandez for record fee". ESPN.com. 1 February 2023. Retrieved 1 February 2023.
  27. ^ "Enzo Fernandez: Chelsea sign midfielder in £106.8m British-record transfer deal from Benfica". Sky Sports. 1 February 2023. Retrieved 1 February 2023.
  28. ^ "Chelsea's attacking woe vs. Fulham overshadows bright debut by record signee Enzo Fernandez". ESPN.com. 3 February 2023. Retrieved 3 February 2023.
  29. ^ Johnston, Neil (11 February 2023). "West Ham United 1–1 Chelsea". BBC Sport. Retrieved 11 February 2023.
  30. ^ "Report: Chelsea 2–1 AFC Wimbledon". Chelsea F.C. 30 August 2023. Retrieved 25 October 2023.
  31. ^ "Match report: Chelsea 3 Brighton 2". Chelsea F.C. 3 December 2023.
  32. ^ "Con Enzo Fernández entre los posibles citados, la Sub 18 defenderá el Torneo de L'Alcúdia". La Página Millonaria (in Spanish). 19 July 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  33. ^ "Messi bisa na estreia de Enzo Fernández" (in Portuguese). 24 September 2022. Archived from the original on 6 December 2022. Retrieved 24 September 2022.
  34. ^ "Lista de la Selección Argentina para el Mundial de Qatar 2022". TyC Sports (in Spanish). 11 November 2022. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  35. ^ "Argentina 2–0 Mexico: As it happened". Al Jazeera. 26 November 2022. Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  36. ^ Garcia, Adriana (26 November 2022). "Enzo Fernández: la figura que cambió todo desde el banco". ESPN (in Spanish). Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  37. ^ Cawthorne, Andrew; Schomberg, William (3 December 2022). "Messi helps Argentina past Australia into World Cup quarter-finals". Reuters. Retrieved 8 December 2022.
  38. ^ "Argentina 3–3 France (Argentina wins 4–2 on penalties)". FIFA. 18 December 2022.
  39. ^ Clark, Gill (18 December 2022). "Argentina's Enzo Fernandez wins World Cup 2022 Young Player of the Tournament". Goal.
  40. ^ Connolly, Martin (9 February 2023). "Analytical look at Chelsea's record signing, Enzo Fernández". We Ain't Got No History. Archived from the original on 9 February 2023.
  41. ^ "Enzo Fernandez analysis: Benfica's creative prodigy taking Europe by storm". foottheball.com. 18 September 2022. Archived from the original on 9 February 2023. Retrieved 4 February 2023.
  42. ^ "Scouting the Primeira Liga: The Next Players to Make the Step Up". analyticsfc.co.uk. 18 August 2022. Archived from the original on 9 February 2023. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  43. ^ "Enzo Fernandez – The Future Of Argentina and Benfica's Midfield?". breakingthelines.com. 11 August 2022. Archived from the original on 9 February 2023. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  44. ^ "Analyzing three of Europe's most promising central midfielders". themastermindsite.com. 10 October 2022. Archived from the original on 9 February 2023. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  45. ^ "Enzo Fernández y su emoción ante la sorpresa de su esposa y su hija: "Orgullosa de todo lo que lograste"". Clarín (in Spanish). 23 December 2022. Retrieved 26 December 2022.
  46. ^ "Ficha Estadistica de ENZO FERNANDEZ". BDFA. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  47. ^ a b "Enzo Fernández". National Football Teams. Retrieved 21 December 2022.
  48. ^ Kundert, Tom (27 May 2023). "Benfica crowned champions of Portugal". PortuGOAL. Retrieved 27 May 2023.
  49. ^ McNulty, Phil (25 February 2024). "Carabao Cup final: Chelsea 0–1 Liverpool (aet)". BBC Sport. Retrieved 26 February 2024.
  50. ^ Murray, Scott (18 December 2022). "Argentina beat France on penalties after thrilling World Cup final – live reaction". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 December 2022.
  51. ^ "Best of August: Enzo Fernández wins Best Midfielder of the Month in Liga Portugal bwin". Liga Portugal. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  52. ^ "Best of October/November: Enzo wins the VITO Award for Midfielder of the Month in Liga Portugal bwin". Liga Portugal. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  53. ^ "Mbappe pips Messi to Golden Boot". FIFA. 18 December 2022. Retrieved 18 December 2022.
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