All you need to know about Leeds, City & Barca-linked Mateo Fernandez

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Espanyol striker Mateo Fernandez

Leeds United have reportedly set their sights on signing Espanyol starlet Mateo Fernandez, but they face competition from Barcelona and Manchester City for his signature. 

According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal and Liverpool have also kept tabs on Fernandez, who has been making waves in the Espanyol youth set-up.

Here’s everything you need to know about the rising star.

The story so far

Born in Spain to an English family in October 2001 – Can’t Get You Out Of My Head by Kylie Minogue was No.1 at the time, fact fans – Fernandez has since developed his skills in Espanyol’s academy.

A striker, Fernandez began to catch the eye during the 2018-19 campaign with 15 goals in 13 games for Espanyol Cadete. He followed that up by making the step up to Espanyol B Juvenil, where he scored 15 goals in 22 appearances over the course of the 2019-20 season.

Espanyol’s city rivals Barcelona reportedly made an approach to nab him in the summer of 2020, when he was 16, but he’s ended up staying put.

Having done well to identify the likes of Pedri and Ronald Aruojo in recent seasons, while bringing through the likes of Gavi and Ansu Fati, it’s clear that Barcelona are putting an impetus on the next generation as they look to make it through their financial crisis. The possibility of the Catalan club making a return for his signature hasn’t been ruled out, while reports in the spring claimed that Man City were keeping close tabs.

According to Spanish journalist Diego Balbotin, Leeds are now in for the youngster and have reached an agreement with the player but not yet met Espanyol’s asking price. It’s claimed that Leeds bid €500,000 but may need to pay his €1.5million release clause – although his current deal is due to expire next summer.

Playing style

Details and footage of Fernandez are scarce are restricted to the youth team, as he’s not yet made a first-team debut. Some reports have claimed he can be ‘the next Sergio Aguero’, but as always with such claims it’s worth taking that with a massive pinch of salt.

He’s been described as technically proficient and physically strong, but the main thing that stands out is his eye for goal – he scored 40 goals during a breakthrough 2016-17 campaign and notched a hat-trick against Barcelona’s academy side back in March.

Fernandez scored 14 goals in 21 appearances in the Spanish Segunda B for Espanyol’s youth reserve side last term, averaging a goal every 112 minutes. However, due to an ongoing contract dispute with his boyhood club, he’s said to have been frozen out this season.

What’s been said

“Mateo is on his way to the Premier League. Barcelona tried signing him in the summer but did not meet the financial demands of Espanyol,” announced Sport journalist Albert Roge.

“This outcome is, of course, not the one desired by the club. In him there is regret for the departure of the player, which will happen sooner or later. He was considered a player with great potential and if he had agreed to renew he would have been part of the first team’s preseason under Vicente Moreno,” claims Javier Rodriguez Alonso in Grada3.

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