Pepijn Lijnders praises Liverpool midfield target Enzo Fernandez

With Liverpool strongly linked with a move for Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez, Pepijn Lijnders has issued praise for the World Cup winner.

Fernandez was a key player for Argentina as they surged to the final of the World Cup, and along with the likes of Lionel Messi and Alexis Mac Allister was a standout against France.

The 21-year-old was named Young Player of the Tournament, and though this will only increase interest, reports in Portugal claim a move to Liverpool is his “priority.”

A deal would need to be struck with Benfica, of course, and they are not likely to sell mid-season, with a summer transfer more feasible.

It was timely, though, that in his pre-Man City press conference, Lijnders – who has ties in Portugal after eight years with Porto – named Fernandez as he enthused over Argentina.

“What I liked about Argentina is they played to their strengths,” he told reporters.

“Take, for example, Rodrigo De Paul, who is like a sweeper behind Messi.

“Messi’s on the inside, he goes to the outside; Messi’s on the outside, he goes to the inside. They play to their strengths.

“Enzo and Mac Allister, how they manage the midfield, together with Rodrigo but especially these two, how they balance each other.

“Messi, I don’t need to speak about! I said already before, if you see it from five metres, it’s something I’d never witnessed before, the speed, and he was decisive in each attack they had.

“He was the start of many attacks – with Enzo, of course.”

2K93RMD Lisbon, Portugal. 25th Oct, 2022. Enzo Fernandez of SL Benfica seen in action during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between SL Benfica and Juventus FC at the Luz stadium. (Credit Image: © Henrique Casinhas/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire)

Lijnders twice mentioned Fernandez – and perhaps tellingly, by his first name – and, in doing so, highlighted two key attributes that could endear him to Liverpool.

Not only is the youngster able to “manage the midfield,” but he also showed his ability to “start attacks” alongside Messi, keeping up with arguably the best player in football history.

If a deal was agreed with Benfica in the future, it would not be the first time that Lijnders played a role in identifying a target, having also been influential in the signing of Diogo Jota.

Liverpool already hold strong ties to Benfica, with Portuguese-speaking sporting director Julian Ward facilitating the arrival of Darwin Nunez in the summer.

And the clear admiration of Fernandez suggests that, were he to become available, the Reds would at least be involved in talks.