How a settled Enzo Fernandez has resulted in a much-improved Chelsea


Usually, a big money transfer puts a player under the microscope. Every action on the pitch is microanalysed, experts in body language chip in and people are blinded by the transfer fee. 


For Enzo Fernandez, it was different. Perhaps due to perpetual upheaval at Chelsea and being just one of the big money buys under the new ownership group, the World Cup winner has seemingly managed to avoid being the subject of many conversations over the past 12 months following his £107m move to Stamford Bridge.  


The 23-year-old has played under three different managers since the switch the Blues. He’s had multiple midfield partners and had a role in a number of different systems. Fans are yet to the player who claimed the best young player of the tournament at the 2022 Qatar World Cup. Being honest, Enzo hasn’t gotten close to justifying the fee Chelsea paid for him.  


But when assessing him, there’s always been a reason for his performances. First Graham Potter didn’t know how to use him. Then Frank Lampard wasn’t sure what his best position was. Now Mauricio Pochettino’s tactics are masking his strengths.  


The truth is probably somewhere in between. Yes, all of the managers he’s played under haven’t really allowed him to play his natural game, but Enzo has also struggled to impose himself on things. Why? Well, he’s still a young midfielder who is developing. He moved to a physical league just months after making the switch to Europe. It may have been too much, too soon for the Chelsea No.8. He needed time to adapt and settle.  


The Argentine international said as much after responding to rumours he was looking to leave Chelsea.  


"I don't know where those rumours came from. Social networks I think. I totally deny it. I don't want to leave Chelsea, I'm very happy here," Enzo told ESPN.  


"Since the first day they [Chelsea] have treated me wonderfully, I am very grateful. Regardless of what happens in football, I am grateful and I am happy at Chelsea. I will continue [here] as long as they want. 


"I've been improving the past few months. I had started the season very well, then I had some ups and downs, but now I am finding myself again, finding that feeling of being well again.[I'm] grateful to my teammates and the coaching staff, who fully trust me, and to continue on this path, which is important." 


He might finally be finding his feet. 



After reports claimed Enzo’s agent had been in contact with some of Europe’s biggest clubs trying to engineer a move away from Stamford Bridge, the former Benfica maestro put in a handful of eye-catching performances.  


The midfield playmaker scored a stunning free-kick to knock Aston Villa out of the FA Cup and then followed that up with a goal in the win over Crystal Palace. He was also quietly impressive in the recent 1-1 draw with champions Manchester City. This upturn in form coincides with Chelsea’s three-match unbeaten streak. Is it purely a coincidence?  


There have been suggestions that Pochettino has tweaked Enzo’s role recently, something the one-time PSG tactician disputes.  


"Sometimes it's different with how we see the things. I don't believe that he's now playing deeper, Enzo. I think always we thought that he is a player with the capacity to build in our build-up, using him and his quality. And then to arrive to the opposite box with the possibility to score. 


"And now I think the capacity to move, to run, I think it is improving a lot. That is why now we can see him building from the back, but also arriving and scoring goals like [against] Palace in the last minute. After 90 minutes, you can see; I think it was 60 or 70 metres [ran]. He is improving a lot, his capacity to move on the pitch. 


"It's about time. From the beginning, with the season before we arrived, he was more static and playing more in a position and not to cover space. He is a player with the capacity to be box-to-box, he has the capacity to score goals because of the technique he has. Of course to build from the back and help the team to clean the ball when the opponent goes to press." 


In football, we’re often too quick to judge players and look for them to fall into a definitive category. Are they a flop or not? Enzo might’ve benefited from the chaos at Chelsea by being allowed to find his feet. Something that might’ve not been possible at other clubs had he been signed for a world-record fee for a midfielder. Oddly enough, playing for the Blues might’ve actually been a blessing for his short-term development in England.

How a settled Enzo Fernandez has resulted in a much-improved Chelsea