Frank Lampard says he “feels sorry for” Enzo Fernandez who should now be “putting his feet up and saying: ‘What a year’”, and tipped the World Cup winner for a new role next season.
Fernandez moved to the Blues from Benfica for £105m in January, fresh from his big role in Argentina’s World Cup win.
The midfielder has been one of very few to come out of Chelsea’s horrific season with any credit, despite not playing in his best position, according to Lampard.
“My personal view with Enzo is that he can probably play in all the midfield roles, but seeing him train and play, I get the feeling from him that he has more to offer than as a single No 6. He can play as a double No 6 or as a No 8 where he can join into the game more,” Lampard said.
“I haven’t actually asked him that question (his best role). In my time here, it’s just been a fact that he is the most natural No 6 in a midfield that doesn’t have many natural No 6s.
“Fair play to him, he’s never once said to me, ‘That’s not for me’. His attitude is to do the best for the team, but going forward I think he can join into the game a lot more. We saw bits of it against Manchester City where he played in a double No 6 slightly higher up the pitch, and he’s got a really good eye to play forward.
“That’s something we as a club have not been doing enough in my opinion: playing forward and being more direct higher up the pitch, finding passes that really test the opposition. Enzo can play that pass, so playing higher up the pitch is good for him.”
Fernandez has started every game since making his debut in February with Lampard convinced he will have a huge role to play in Chelsea’s success going forward.
“He gets what’s required in training. He gets what’s required to be a Chelsea player. He’s got a high talent.
“Some players just get it. I keep talking about giving players time. But when you work with someone, you understand it very quickly, and I think he gets it.
“I’ve been really impressed with him as a player, his attitude to training, his attitude to games, his determination. There is something about him. He doesn’t speak the language much at all but he’s learning fast. I’ve got a lot of faith that Enzo will be a big part of what happens in the future of this club.
“I feel for him a little bit. He’s had a massive move to the Premier League. He’s won the World Cup. He should be sitting back at the end of this season quite rightly putting his feet up and saying: ‘What a year.’ But in terms of how he can affect the future, I see him as being essential to the future.”