Looking for a replacement for Enzo Fernández

It is difficult to fill the void that Enzo Fernandez would leave when he leaves Benfica, but we are looking for candidates who could fit into the Lisbon team.

Published:27/12/2022

In just six months, Enzo Fernandez‘s career has taken a 180º turn, surely a turn in line with the immense talent he has shown since he started getting minutes at Defensa y Justicia. After a brilliant spell at River Plate, Benfica were the quickest and most convinced by the potential of the Argentine midfielder, who, after the World Cup in Qatar, is now fully prepared to join one of the best clubs in Europe. In the absence of knowing the destination and amount of the transfer, it seems clear that Benfica’s sporting management will have to find a replacement next summer, if not before.

And finding one is not easy. Enzo Fernandez is not a specific profile, but all in one, so it is not so important to find someone similar to him, something very complicated, but a player who can play in the best possible way the role that would be left vacant taking into account the roles already occupied by Florentino Luis (defensive facet), Rafa Silva (arrival and finishing), David Neres (imbalance and depth) or Joao Mario (route and pressure in the opposing field). And although Enzo is an extraordinary defender, competitor, creator of chances and extraordinary passes, it is his role as organiser of attacks, making more than 90 passes per game, where Benfica would need to invest after his departure, as they had already thought of Julian Weigl in the previous project. With that idea on the table, we started looking.

In this chart, and before we delve into the players, we have put together different players with the ability to play the role of the midfielder who, in the short term, would accompany Florentino Luis in Roger Schmidt’s 4-2-3-1. We have taken into account the ability to be very agile on the ball, to make quick decisions and to mix great quality with daring passing to make him progress and always look forward, both short, breaking lines, and long, with good movement or even with a good shot if he gets close to the edge of the box.

  • One of the players most capable of providing continuity to Enzo’s organisational and creative role is Joey Veerman, a 24-year-old midfielder from PSV. To better focus on passing skills, we have selected a number of metrics where Enzo stands out like few other European midfielders, to see how Veerman approaches the Argentine’s numbers and footballing traits.
  • A player more than capable of playing as an organiser in a two-man midfield is Matheus Martinelli. It is true that Fluminense are the most playmaking team in the Brasileirao, but Martinelli is their most organised player with the ability to command the game through passing. He doesn’t have Enzo’s creativity or defensive ability but he is very daring and clear-sighted on the ball, both short, long and on the run.
  • An always interesting option when it comes to finding midfielders with great first ball control, top level technical resources and a global vision of their team’s organised attack is Maxime Lopez. The nuance with the Marseille player is age and the ability of Benfica to revalue the player for a later sale. However, he is a proven Serie A midfielder who is among the best passers in the Italian championship. Less deep and magical than the Argentinian World Cup winner but equally a fantastic organiser who hardly loses the ball and circulates the ball with great judgement.

We are Driblab, a consultancy specialized in the statistical analysis of players and teams; our work is focused on advising and minimizing risk in professional football decision-making in areas related to talent detection and footballer evaluations. Our database has more than 200,000 players from more than 180 competitions, covering information from all over the world. Here you can learn more about how we work and what we offer.

Autor: Alejandro Arroyo
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