Amazing rise by Enzo Fernandez, from River Plate prodigy to world champion and £106m transfer to Chelsea
CHELSEA have broken the UK transfer record with a stunning £106m deal for Argentinian world champion Enzo Fernandez.
The Blues completed the blockbuster transfer in the early hours of Wednesday after a mad day of negotiations on deadline day.
It ended a remarkable month for Fernandez, who not only enjoyed success for his country in Qatar but also picked up the FIFA Best Young Player of the Tournament award.
Fernandez, 22, only made his debut with Argentine giants River Plate in 2019.
It was ex-Chelsea star Hernan Crespo who steered his career in the right direction during a year-long loan at Defensa y Justicia.
But it was under the tutelage of the enigmatic coach Marcelo Gallardo that took him to even greater heights, earning him a blockbuster move to Portugal just this year.
Fernandez grew up in Buenos Aires – where the locals live and breathe football.
Incredibly, he joined River at the age of just five after discovering the game at local club La Recova.
Some 13 years later, after his promotion to the first team, Gallardo promoted him to the first team, where he made his debut in a 3-0 defeat by LDU Quito in the Copa Libertadores.
The club and Gallardo felt it was important for his development that he needed to be a starter elsewhere.
He was loaned out to Defensa y Justicia for the 2020/21 season, where he would flourish under ex-Blues star Crespo.
Crespo recognized the skills of Fernandez – a possession player who offers boundless energy and tactical intelligence – and played the talent as a lone defensive midfielder.
He later became a key player for Defensa y Justicia who enjoyed a fantastic season.
They won back-to-back Copa Sudamericana and Recopa Sudamericana, with Fernandez being a key cog in that team’s success.
He returned to River full of confidence.
The following season, Fernandez was brought back into the first-team crease at Gallardo’s urging.
He immediately became a regular – scoring his first goal for the club and assisting in the 2-0 win over Velez Sarsfield.
It was an incredible start to the season for Fernandez, scoring eight goals and providing six assists in 19 games.
Keeping going forward, his eye for a pass and a newfound ability to get into the box and prove a threat all paid off for both the club and the player.
For many, he was Argentina’s best footballer this season – and there was a lot of hype about his potential.
Europe’s top clubs were circling but it was a Portuguese giant who moved first.
Lisbon giants Benfica jumped ahead of the queue by paying £12million for the playmaker last summer.
After River’s exit from the Copa Libertadores in July, Fernandez said goodbye to his teammates and headed off on a new adventure in Portugal.
Belief in him was so great – Benfica gave him their most prestigious squad number, 13.
It was famously worn by the legend Eusebio in the 1960’s and is not handed out to anyone.
Fernandez immediately returned his fee and favor.
He scored a superb half-volley from outside the box on his debut against Midtjylland in a Champions League qualifier.
He followed that up with a goal in his Primeira Liga debut in a 4-0 home win over Arouca. A star was born.
Fernandez has been an ever-present in a Benfica side who are unbeaten in 28 games in all competitions this season.
They even edged out PSG and his Argentinian teammate Lionel Messi to take first place in their Champions League group.
Before the World Cup break, Fernandez was named Primeira Liga’s Midfielder of the Month for the third year in a row.
It was the form that prepared him well for the greatest show on earth.
Remarkably, Fernandez only made his Argentina debut in September, fulfilling a dream of playing alongside his idol Messi.
“I really enjoy playing with Leo,” Fernandez revealed after the game.
“A dream becomes true.”
Messi returned the sentiment just three months later, calling Fernandez ‘a spectacular kid’ as the pair led Argentina’s rush to the world title.
But it was only in the final group game that Fernandez showed his country what they were missing – firing a shot into Guillermo Ochoa’s top corner to seal a 2-0 win over Mexico, in which he featured as a substitute.
After that, it was impossible for head coach Lionel Scaloni to drop him, showing a tenacity in the first game against Saudi Arabia that was lacking in Argentina’s midfield.
Only two players in the entire World Cup (Mateo Kovacic and Achraf Hakimi) have recorded more successful tackles than his 22.
While his crisp and succinct pass rate was 88 percent throughout the tournament.
Fernandez was at his best in the final – putting on a daring box-to-box show.
It was fitting that before he got his hands on the World Cup, he was presented with the FIFA Young Player Trophy.
The Premier League has seemingly gained another jewel from South America, ready to lead his club to greater success – just as he has done for his country.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/7012695/enzo-fernandez-rise-argentina-world-cup-chelsea/ Amazing rise by Enzo Fernandez, from River Plate prodigy to world champion and £106m transfer to Chelsea