Premier League

Mauricio Pochettino hails ‘world champion’ Enzo Fernandez after Aston Villa win

Axel Disasi, Enzo Fernandez, Moises Caicedo

Mauricio Pochettino has heaped praise on Enzo Fernandez after the midfielder’s standout showing in Chelsea’s 3-1 victory over Aston Villa in an FA Cup replay.

In what was an all-round sensational performance from Chelsea off the back of two poor Premier League defeats, Fernandez made a lasting impression with a glorious free-kick which he celebrated with an animated shutting down of reports he is keen to leave Stamford Bridge.

Fernandez’s agent had shut down the reports before kick-off, and Pochettino was quick to praise the midfielder for rising to the occasion after finding himself in the headlines.

“Look, today we are living in an era where it is easy to abuse, you know? To the people, to the public people. It’s normal that the players are human, not robots, and it’s so easy today to abuse,” Pochettino said.

“I think we need to understand that we are playing football, you know? Of course this type of situation makes us angry, situations that are completely unfair. Today, Enzo showed why he’s here and he showed his quality.”

Pochettino continued: “He is a world champion player. Look, when he signed one year ago, he arrived after nearly two years with no holidays, no rest, with the pressure, still young, different environment, different language, different culture, a team that needs time to build. All of these types of circumstance, you need time.

“I don’t want to annoy the people. For me, it’s not an excuse. I want to be here because I really believe in the project, I really believe in the player. But please, stop creating expectations that do not match to the reality and help the players that are here to try and build something.”

Axel Disasi, Enzo Fernandez, Moises Caicedo

Fernandez celebrated by making his commitment clear / Visionhaus/GettyImages

After the match, Fernandez’s agent once again stressed the 23-year-old’s commitment to the Chelsea project.

“The rumours came out of the London press, I don’t understand why,” Uriel Perez told ESPN. “Both Enzo and I are very clear about what this project is, which was explained to me on the day of the World Cup final.

“They told us very clearly that it was a project that was going to hurt, especially from a sporting perspective, because they were going to purge the squad, they were going to try and bring the best young players and one of them was Enzo.

“They were aware that it was going to take one, two or even three seasons for the team to start fighting for important things, but they said that, once the team was assembled, it would start fighting for…

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