Chelsea have found a gem. Enzo Fernandez may have cost £106.8m and shown the planet what he can do at Qatar but little of that will matter. The Argentine is a special midfielder.

In just over six weeks in England he has already shown serious signs of why he is rated so highly and what justified his mammoth release clause at Benfica. With two assists already, more than Jorginho had at Stamford Bridge in the league since the start of last season, he is transforming those around him.

For too long Chelsea have been easy to play against. Slow, passive and methodical in possession. With Fernandez they can continue to dictate tempo with precision but his range of passing and speed of play is unlike anything they have had for a while.

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The Blues are noticeably switching play more now with Fernandez in the side, utilising the wingbacks. He alone played 13 long balls in the match, double that of any Chelsea outfield player, with 10 of those successful being more than three times as many as any other player on the field.

Only Mateo Kovacic made more total passes but Fernandez did it with higher accuracy. This shouldn't come as a surprise, he now tops the Premier League for touches per90 (107) and progressive passes per90 (10). In such a short space of time he has slotted into the team, often chopping and changing around him, with ease.

When it comes to completed passes per90 he is the best performing midfielder outside of Manchester City on the list, only Rodri can compete (of those to have played five or more matches.) In the same category it is the City man that is the only player to have more pass distance covered per90, no midfielder with more than five matches has more progressive distance per90 than the 22-year-old either.

His early performances have drawn comparisons with Cesc Fabregas, perhaps rightly so. The Spaniard was a standout player during the 2014/15 title winning season in particular, moving between a double-pivot and No10 behind a striker. Unfortunately the data isn't there for that season but Fabregas, aged 27, registered 18 assists.

Fernandez is a different type of player but the Blues simply haven't had someone of this type of variety in midfield. Fabregas was the creator of that team from deep but importantly had a striker that was able to finish he chances. Chelsea scored 73 goals that season but are on course for well less than 50 this term. That tally of 73 isn't a massive number, it is three less than Thomas Tuchel's side notched last season and only four more than the 2019/20 team that finished fourth.

Chelsea this season have been massively underperforming their xG on the other hand and have scored nearly eight less than the model suggests they should have. Only four other sides have run as cold as Graham Potter's men throughout the season. It has been a common problem.

However, it is not exactly the same situation as before, say, under Tuchel at the start of the campaign. Chelsea finally have a player creating chances, if not directly then contributing to higher quality opportunities, whereas before the creation itself was a problem. That is not so much the issue now. In Joao Felix and Fernandez Chelsea have two unpredictable and elite players, add on the strength of the two wingbacks and chances are flowing.

The Blues get into positions but still don't make the most of them. That was the story of the first half against Everton, where they failed to make the most of strong situations. They have the Fabregas from 2014-2019 but to move onto the next level the Diego Costa is still needed.

Goals win games and Potter sides have run cold on goalscoring throughout his career. Now, with better resources available, there is the chance to pair an elite creator with a finisher worthy of getting on the end of the passes.


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2023-03-19T11:14:03Z dg43tfdfdgfd