It’s been a meteoric rise in 2022 for Enzo Fernandez, who was still playing for boyhood club River Plate this time last year. He’s now lifted the most prestigious trophy going, having made himself indispensable to Argentina’s midfield.
The 21-year-old only just moved to Benfica in the summer, having played a vital role in River Plate’s Argentine Primera Division last term. He joined the Portuguese giants for just €18million and immediately looks one of their star assets – it’s less than six months later and Fernandez is now being valued at more than five times that.
“Enzo Fernandez, I like this guy. 21 years old – he’s done nothing but enhance his reputation. There will be clubs sniffing around him. Top, top clubs,” said former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, speaking as a pundit on the BBC during the World Cup final.
“He was so composed, for a kid so young at this level. Tactically very good as well.”
“He showed his personality, class on the ball. I think maybe next summer, he will go to a better league,” added ex-Argentina international Pablo Zabaleta.
Here are nine stats that underline Enzo Fernandez and his classy gameplay.
1. Fernandez has completed 1226 passes in the Primeira Liga this season. That’s more than minutes played. He averages 107 passes per 90 minutes in the league.
2. That’s 252 (20%) more than any other player in the Portuguese top flight. It’s also more than any player in Europe’s big five leagues.
3. The 21-year-old ranks top for passes into the final third (142) in the Primeira Liga. Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos is the only player in Europe’s big five leagues to have registered more (159). Fernandez also ranks top in Portugal for progressive passes (110), while only his Argentina team-mate Lionel Messi (133) and Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich (125) have notched more in Europe’s five big leagues.
4. True to form, he also completed the most passes (77) of any player in the World Cup final. He also registered the most touches (118) of any player on the pitch.
5. He made more tackles than any other player on the pitch in the World Cup final (10). That’s the most of any player in any World Cup final since Italian warhorse Gennaro Gattuso in 2006.
6. In the group stage match against Poland, Fernandez became the youngest player to start a World Cup match for Argentina since Lionel Messi in 2006 (via @OptaJoe). He was also the youngest Argentinian to score at a World Cup match since Messi, having been assisted by the legendary No.10 for his memorable strike against Mexico.
7. The midfielder only made his Argentina debut in September. The World Cup final was just his 10th international appearance.
8. By winning the Young Player award, Fernandez has followed in the footsteps of Kylian Mbappe (2018), Paul Pogba (2014) and Thomas Muller (2010).
9. According to his FBref scouting report, Fernandez ranks in the 97th percentile for non-penalty xG, the 96th percentile for shots, the 96th percentile for xAG (expected assists), the 99th percentile for passes attempted and progressive passes – when compared to other midfielders over the past 365 days.