The World Cup in Qatar served some of the biggest individual performances in recent history, with the biggest of all being Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe, who both went home with the Best Player and Top-Scorer awards.
But while both made the headlines for a good reason, there was another player who, among a host of others, stood out for his quality and creativity–Enzo Martínez.
The Argentina international has been a transfer target of Liverpool and demonstrated his potential on the biggest stage of all, eventually winning the best young player in Qatar for his stellar performance.
It’s been a meteoric rise in 2022 for the 21-year-old, who was still playing for boyhood club River Plate this time last year. He only just moved to Benfica in the summer for just €18million and is already now being valued at more than five times that just six months after his move.
He has been linked with Liverpool and has reportedly agreed on personal terms with the Merseyside club, who want to sign him alongside Jude Bellingham.
“Fernandez would be an excellent option for Liverpool,” former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson told Football Insider.
“He is only young and he is already performing at the highest level. He was one of the standout players at the World Cup. There have been many failed signings off the back of a World Cup. Fernandez is doing it every week at club level as well, though.
“He has a great engine, is the right age and has shown he can perform on the big stage. It would be an amazing signing. We know Liverpool are after Bellingham, but they need at least two midfielders next summer. It will not surprise me if Fernandez is one of them.”
With his stock currently on the rise, we bring you eleven stats that underline his class.
- By winning the Young Player award, Fernandez has followed in the footsteps of Kylian Mbappe (2018), Paul Pogba (2014) and Thomas Muller (2010).
- Fernandez has completed 1226 passes in the Primeira Liga this season. That’s more than minutes played. He averages 107 passes per 90 minutes in the league.
- That’s 252 (20%) more than any other player in the Portuguese top flight. It’s also more than any player in Europe’s big five leagues.
- Fernández ranks top for passes into the final third (142) in the Primeira Liga. Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos is the only player in Europe’s big five leagues to have registered more (159).
- The 21-year-old also ranks top in Portugal for progressive passes (110), while only his Argentina team-mate Lionel Messi (133) and Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich (125) have notched more in Europe’s five big leagues.
- Fernandez also completed the most passes (77) of any player in the World Cup final. He also registered the most touches (118) of any player on the pitch.
- The Benfica man made more tackles than any other player on the pitch in the World Cup final (10). That’s the most of any player in any World Cup final since Gennaro Gattuso in 2006.
- Fernandez became the youngest player to start a World Cup match for Argentina since Lionel Messi in 2006 when he started for Argentina in the group stage match against Poland.
- He was also the youngest Argentinian to score at a World Cup match since Messi, having been assisted by the legendary No.10 for his memorable strike against Mexico.
- The midfielder only made his Argentina debut in September. The World Cup final was just his 10th international appearance.
- According to his FBref scouting report, Fernandez ranks in the 97th percentile for non-penalty xG, the 96th percentile for shots, the 96th percentile for xAG (expected assists), the 99th percentile for passes attempted and progressive passes – when compared to other midfielders over the past 365 days.