Enzo Fernandez’s Premier League debut didn’t quite go as planned as Chelsea were held to a 0-0 draw by Fulham, but he produced an eye-catching individual performance that gave an early hint of why he’s the most expensive signing in British football history.
It was only earlier this week in which Chelsea completed a last-gasp deal to sign Fernandez from Benfica in a Premier League record £107million deal.
The midfielder then went straight into Graham Potter’s starting XI as Chelsea hosted local rivals Fulham on Friday evening.
It doesn’t appear that Fernandez needed any time to acclimitise to a new league and a new set of team-mates. The Argentinian World Cup winner produced an authoritative display in the centre of the park as Chelsea dominated Fulham but couldn’t quite find a breakthrough.
“Really good considering he’s not been in the country very long and he doesn’t know us and we don’t know him so well in terms of working daily,” was Potter’s verdict in his post-match interview with Sky Sports.
“But I think you could see flashes of his quality, his personality is there, and he’ll get better and better the more we work with him.”
“Yeah it was. I thought he handled himself magnificently,” the Chelsea manager added in his press conference when asked if the match was a real taste of the challenge of playing in the Premier League.
“Tough game, but you could see his quality, you could see what he’ll bring to the team.
“It’s not easy for him or for us because he hasn’t been with us that long, but I think you’ll see how good he can be and how much he can influence the team – so I’m excited with him.”
Here are eight stats that illustrate Fernandez’s impressive Chelsea debut:
– Fernandez was trusted to start for Chelsea just three days after his deadline day signing went through and just two days after his first training session. For reference, Casemiro’s first Premier League start for Manchester United wasn’t until 47 days after he signed.
– According to Understat, Chelsea’s best chance of the match (0.43xG) came to Kai Havertz in the 32nd minute – Fernandez was instrumental in the build-up, having played an excellent through ball to Mason Mount for the would-be assist (00:40 below).
Enzo Fernández vs. Fulhampic.twitter.com/VXmyHRYrYo
— 37 (@p46) February 3, 2023
– Fernandez won possession 10 times, won nine duels and made two interceptions. Who needs N’Golo Kante?
– The Argentina international won six tackles. That’s the most of any player on the pitch.
– He didn’t commit a single foul and won two fouls himself.
– The 22-year-old completed 64 accurate passes and registered 99 touches. Only the Chelsea centre-backs Thiago Silva and Benoit Badiashile notched more. He completed more than twice as many passes as any opposition player.
– Fernandez created one chance, completed eight passes into the final third and won 100% of his aerial duels.
– With a WhoScored rating of 7.6, Fernandez was Chelsea highest-rated player on the night.