Article written by Pranav Mohan - @Pranav_m28
Argentina has already produced one E. Fernandez, who is now one of the most expensive players in the world, a World Cup winner, and one of the most exciting players around.
Yet the love affair with the “EF” initials is not yet finished for the South American country. Ezequiel Fernandez is currently one of Argentina's most exciting young prospects. The Boca Juniors midfielder might just be the next biggest “all-round” midfielder.
Fernandez's Player Profile
The Boca midfielder is 21-year-old and stands at 178 centimetres tall (5’8). Equi’s potential as an 8 is really high, and there's evidence to suggest he can flourish as a 6, too.
He is an excellent ball-winner and his positional intelligence is evident to see - another huge tick for a player of his age.
One of his standout attributes is his ball-winning ability, proving to be extremely efficient in the defensive half-spaces. This is one of the main reasons why he can succeed as a top quality defensive midfielder. He averaged 9.79 recoveries per 90 for Tigre in the 2022 edition of Liga Profesional (top 1% in the league that season).
On top of that, he was undoubtedly one of the best in the defensive half-spaces.
The Argentine made 65 ball recoveries in that zone (3.00 per 90). He was also one of the best tacklers in the same area.
His tackling ability also stands out. He had a tackle success rate of 62.71% in 2022, while making 1.71 successful tackles per 90. He is one of those players who certainly doesn’t shy away from a duel.
In fact, his ability to win duels might be one of the most attractive things about him. In his recent match for Boca Juniors against Racing, he won 11/16 of his duels, made 15 ball recoveries, and won 3/5 of his tackles.
While the defensive side of his game is something to be excited about, his offensive side has also caught the eye. There are still a few areas where he needs to polish, however, before he is ready to dominate the world.
His primary method of progression is passing. The map above shows his main strength is getting the ball into the final third. He is very vertical with his passing but also possesses the ability to switch the direction of play if needed.
Although he only completed six progressive carries for Tigre in 2022, his carrying ability is solid enough at this stage of his career.
One area Fernandez can improve his final pass or the ability to get the ball into the penalty box more often. This way, he would be able to start dominating all phases of play.
The former Tigre midfielder has very few weaknesses, but at the moment, ball retention is one of them - especially post-recovery ball retention. The main reason behind this he tries to make a lot of long passes right after winning the ball.
This shouldn’t be viewed as a huge negative, as Fernandez was sometimes solely responsible for progression from midfield during his time at Tigre. Nevertheless, improvement in this part of his game will be crucial if he wants to succeed in Europe, as today’s game depends on winning the ball and keeping the ball.
Future destinations for Ezequiel Fernandez
The 21-year-old Argentine should be eyeing up a move to a club that can develop him into a more finished player and offer him a more competitive environment. Clubs such as Porto, Benfica, Lens, Brighton, and even some of the bottom-half Premier League clubs could prove to be a good destination for him.
He is a very low-risk, high-reward buy for any club looking to be brave in the market. At present, it appears only a matter of time before he becomes the next big player to come out of Argentina.