Chelsea’s £107m man Enzo Fernandez urges the club’s disgruntled fans to ‘trust’ the players and calls for patience – as he jokes that Lionel Messi is God after guiding Argentina to their World Cup triumph
- Enzo Fernandez has insisted frustrated Chelsea fans should trust the players
- The Argentine joined for a British record £107m in the January transfer window
- And the World Cup winner urged supporters to show patience despite struggles
In the midst of the whirlwind hurtling through Chelsea sits Enzo Fernandez, the most expensive footballer in Britain, serene and confident, at ease with the price tag and every inch the superstar signing.
There is a large diamond in both of his ears, a sharp haircut and a gleaming smile. Intricate tattoo designs disappear beneath the sleeves of his shirt. Most of the illustrations have a religious significance, he explains, which seems appropriate as he talks about keeping the faith through turbulent times.
‘Trust us,’ says Fernandez. ‘Trust the players. Trust the backroom staff. Trust the manager. This is my message to the fans. Never forget we are representing you. We are there for you.
‘We are all moving in the same direction. We have a lot of new faces here. It is a restructuring of the club, and the playing staff. Be patient. We are giving everything we have, trying to win games. Then we can start to turn things around.’
No one embodies the whirlwind quite like Fernandez. This time last year, when Chelsea were crowned club world champions and Roman Abramovich was the owner, Fernandez was still at River Plate, in Argentina, having broken into the first team and earned a new contract.
Enzo Fernandez has urged disgruntled Chelsea fans to keep the faith despite their struggles
The Argentine is the most expensive footballer in Britain after joining for a huge £107million
And the central midfielder called on supporters to ‘trust’ the players and show their patience
Since then, his world has turned at incredible speed. First, a move to Benfica, then World Cup glory with Argentina and, at 22, a move to Chelsea for a fee of £107million to make a dream forged as a child in Buenos Aires come true.
‘We used to tune in on Sunday mornings,’ says Fernandez. ‘I know exactly the times. Four hours’ difference in the winter, three hours’ in the summer.
‘Me and my dad, sitting in bed, drinking herbal tea and watching the Premier League on television. Teams like Chelsea and Manchester United. Players like Carlos Tevez, (Sergio) ‘Kun’ Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain. It’s always been a dream of mine.’
Fernandez, whose father named him after River Plate’s legendary Uruguayan star Enzo Francescoli, joined the club at the age of six and made his first-team debut at 19.
On loan at Defensa y Justicia under boss Hernan Crespo, the former Chelsea and Argentina striker, he won the Copa Sudamericana, the equivalent of the Europa League, before returning to River Plate and, within a year, earning a move to Benfica.
‘It’s all gone very quickly, I feel like I’m still in a period of apprenticeship,’ says Fernandez, winner of the Young Player award at the World Cup, where a superb goal against Mexico in a 2-0 win eased the embarrassment of losing against Saudi Arabia and turned Argentina’s fortunes.
‘Just priceless, that moment,’ says Fernandez, reminded of the screamer. He became a fixture in midfield through to the thrilling final against France, settled on penalties with Lionel Messi lifting the trophy.
‘Messi, it’s not even up for discussion,’ he goes on, in his native Spanish. ‘Probably the best ever. Certainly, as far as I’m concerned. It was a privilege to share a dressing room with him.
New boss Graham Potter’s Blues have only won one of their last 10 games in all competitions
But the World Cup winner insists he and his team-mates can turn things around in west London
‘He’s one of those leaders who is positive all the time in his style of play but also on a human level. He’s down to earth, humble, grateful and kind to everyone.
‘I was conscious he was with me all the way, giving me moral support. I took from him energy, positivity, desire and will to win. Those are the ideas prevalent in the Argentina dressing room.
‘It was my biggest dream to play with Messi and to go on in that team to win the World Cup. It’s like God gave me a huge gift.’
His interpreter checks if he means God or is still talking about Messi. Is there a difference? ‘No, maybe not,’ says Fernandez with a smile.
Chelsea swooped in January, meeting the release clause in his contract on deadline day, the last of eight signings in the month, on a contract until 2031 – but he is yet to win a game with his new club.
‘The money paid is nothing to do with me, so it sits naturally,’ he says on the record fee. ‘I am conscious of the faith they have shown. Chelsea were the team who went all out to sign me.
‘They showed interest via my agent, even before everything that happened at the World Cup. I’m aware it is a massive institution and a club always fighting to win cups.
‘The project really excited me. Now it’s a case of being here, wanting to take Chelsea as far as they want to go, me along with all my team-mates.’
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