Chelsea are ready to pay £115m for Enzo Fernandez but is it a good idea?

Enzo Fernandez could be heading to Chelsea

PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea are ready to pay £115m for Enzo Fernandez but is it a good idea?

Tunde Young 13:04 - 29.12.2022

Chelsea have thrown their hat in the ring for Benfica’s Enzo Fernandez but is he the right fit for the Blues or potentially yet another expensive flop?

Argentine midfielder Enzo Fernandez could be heading to Chelsea in the January transfer window after Chelsea reportedly signalled their intent to trigger his release clause.

And while the proposition of adding the excellent 21-year-old World Cup winner to the squad is an exciting one, especially for the fans, it is worth exploring whether or not this is a good idea.

Does Enzo Fernandez fit into Chelsea’s current system under Graham Potter? If yes, then how exactly? What kind of player is he and how exactly would he improve Chelsea? All important questions which will be answered as we go on.

Is signing Enzo Fernandez a good idea for Chelsea?

This question seems strange because it comes less than two weeks after Enzo won the FIFA World Cup as the best young player in the tournament.

Enzo Fernandez was a vital part of Argentina's World Cup winning team

But beyond the allure of having one of the best young players in the world right now, it is worth considering whether or not a deal of this magnitude makes sense for Chelsea, a club with a long list of expensive flops.

If Chelsea were to sign Fernandez this winter, they would have to trigger his release clause which Benfica reportedly set at £115 million.

That would make him would make him the most expensive player in the club’s history, surpassing the £98 million they paid for Romelu Lukaku in the summer of 2021 and also the biggest transfer in English football, surpassing the £100 million Manchester City paid for Jack Grealish in the same summer.

From a financial perspective, it does not make much sense to pay that much for a 21-year-old midfielder who only moved to Europe in July.

Benfica signed Enzo from River Plate last summer for around £10 million and are in line to make a £105 million profit within six months if Chelsea does trigger his release clause.

Benfica signed Enzo Fernandez from River Plate in the summer of 2022 Benfica signed Enzo Fernandez from River Plate in the summer of 2022

Fernandez has played 24 games for Benfica so far in his first season, returning three goals and five assists, that should not be enough to make him a British record transfer.

His lack of exposure on the biggest stage of club football (despite what he has done on the international scene) makes him a bit of a gamble for a club like Chelsea that cannot particularly afford any more misses in the transfer window.

No doubt Enzo is a quality player but recent history has proven that simply being good at football is not enough to succeed at Chelsea, all of their previous expensive flops came with big reputations and great ability.

Enzo Fernandez could be on his way out of Benfica in the January window
Enzo Fernandez could be on his way out of Benfica in the January window

It would be unwise to pay that much for Enzo especially when there are more established and world-class central midfield options available for around the same price or less such as Nicolo Barella, Jude Bellingham, and Frenkie De Jong.

But make no mistake, if Chelsea were to overlook all of these red flags and sign Enzo Fernandez in January, they would be getting a quality player with massive potential.

How would Enzo Fernandez fit in at Chelsea?

Enzo Fernandez plays primarily in the central midfield position and is capable of interpreting multiple roles in that position at a world-class level.

Enzo Fernandez was the best young player at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

He can function as a box-to-box midfielder thanks to his high energy levels and effectiveness on both ends of the ball. Enzo also plays as a Mezzala (wide midfielder in offensive situations) and a Carrilero (wide midfielder in defensive situations).

His technical abilities such as passing range and accuracy have earned him comparisons to Cesc Fabregas while his energetic approach on and off the ball is similar to N’golo Kante.

Enzo Fernandez combines the qualities of Cesc Fabregas and N'golo Kante Enzo Fernandez combines the qualities of Cesc Fabregas and N'golo Kante

Fabregas and Kante are two Chelsea greats whose world-class abilities thrilled Chelsea fans in their prime so the thought of getting both players rolled into a 21-year-old Argentine must be unbelievably exciting.

Fernandez excels at shot creation as he averages 4.80 shot-creation actions per 90 according to stats culled from FBref, putting him in the top 2% of midfielders in Europe for that particular stat.

Stats also show that Fernandez has attempted 96.83 passes per 90 with an 87.1% success rate, well above the vast majority of his peers in Europe, including Chelsea midfielders.

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Fernandez’s progressive passes stats is perhaps the biggest indicator of what to expect if he does sign for Chelsea as he has played 9.50 progressive passes per 90 this season which is in the top 1% for midfielders according to FBref, a testament to Enzo’s direct style of play.

That directness is missing in the current Chelsea squad, especially in midfield as Jorginho currently plays 5.64 progressive passes per 90, Mateo Kovacic plays 6.66, Ruben Loftus-cheek plays 4.22, Denis Zakaria plays 1.95, Mason Mount plays 3.85, Conor Gallagher plays 1.83 and N’golo Kante plays 4.93 progressive passes per 90.

Enzo also receives 2.72 progressive passes, a testament to his desire to make runs into dangerous areas and give his teammates a good passing option.

Enzo Fernandez's reputation has been significantly boosted by the World Cup

Graham Potter’s Chelsea typically plays with two central midfielders, one of which is deeper while the other has freedom of movement and attacking license, the latter sounds more like Fernandez.

Except Chelsea changes shape when he arrives, Kovacic is likely to be the Enzo casualty, the Argentine would still need to be paired with Jorginho or a player with a similar profile, capable of sitting deep while Fernandez is given the freedom he needs to fully function.