Name: Leandro Fernandez Age: 20
Country: Uruguay Club: Club Universidad de Chile (on loan)
Height: 5’6 Position: Attacking Midfielder
Fernandez is a player that will have fans on the edge of their seats. His progressive running and technical dribbling ability are his best attributes. The way he glides past players with a drop of the shoulder effortlessly is a joy to watch. His shooting technic from long range with a rifle of a left foot is a great asset he possesses. The perfect example of this is his goals in the Pan America games for Uruguay’s U22 team against Jamaica, it will have you applauding.
A big strength he has is his set pieces; with in-swinging corners giving defenders a hard time to clear the danger out the box, with pinpoint accuracy at times being far too good. At a young age he seems to be somewhat of a dead-ball specialist from free kicks, catching the goalkeepers off guard with a Cristiano Ronaldo-esk technic.
The creative side to his game is really imaginative. When he is receiving the ball in the final third with a very good first touch, cutting onto his favoured left foot has defenders always guessing what he will do next. He does his best work between the lines of the opposing teams defence and midfield, always has his head up to see the big picture in front of him. Consistently fashioning chances out for himself and others in the final third when there’s little room to manoeuvre and finding that defence-splitting pass. This also shows in his stats having the highest smart passes and through balls in the Uruguayan Primera División.
When coming up against opposing teams in ariel duels he isn’t the best but his height isn’t the problem, he just doesn’t battle for the ball. You see him shying away at times when challenging for the ball in the air. Players of his stature shouldn’t let that affect them, they should be jumping into defenders and make themselves a nuisance for defenders who have got this advantage over them. This applies to his loose ball duels where he can be pushed off the ball to easily, putting his team under a counter attacking threat in some cases potentially leading to a goal scoring opportunity. Leonardo hopefully can improve his psychical side of the game but I think this will come in time as he matures.
The long-range passing is something he can massively improve on. This is down to the fact he comes deep searching for the ball, his game is not suited to this. When he becomes impatient it effects his decision making in the game, forcing the ball unnecessarily from his own half and trying Hollywood balls that are never on. He should be playing between the lines, coupling that with trying the long ball in the opposing area would be really beneficial to improving this side of his game.
With his style of play and adding that to his small physic, he has very similar qualities to a young Paulo Dybala who was a rough diamond at this age. This crucial stage of development I would love to see him make the trip over to Europe, landing at a big club in either Portugal or Holland where he can have the time to refine and polish up his game. Example being Sporting play 4-4-2 (double 6) he would suit this formation with the emphasis on moving the ball vertically rather than side to side and having that attacking midfield focal point. That’s not to pigeon hole him he would be very comfortable in a 4-3-3 playing on either side of the three.
This summer, he made the move to Tigre’s (Mexico) before getting sent out on loan to Chile. A step in the right direction in his fledgling career, going up a level from his time in his home country. I am very excited to see in the future what becomes of the young Uruguayan dynamo.
Key stats: 12 goals and 3 assists Dribbles 8.6/46.7% successful per 90. Smart passes 3.13 per 90 /44.83% accuracy. Through passes 5.18 per 90/33.3%