The second edition of ‘Player Insights’ will have a look at our experienced Argentinian defender Federico Fernandez, who recently extended his stay on Tyneside with a one-year contract extension.
Fernandez was born in 1989 in the small town of Tres Algarrobos, within the Bueno Aires Province of Argentina. The current defender lives a private life and very rarely participates in interviews, therefore leaving his path to football relatively unknown. Federico Fernanzdez, however did sign for his first professional club at the age of 19, with local team Estuiantes, who competed in the Argentinian Primera Division.
Throughout his stint at Estuiantes, Fernandez made a total of 59 appearances, across both the league and cup competitions. In 2009 he contributed to the club lifting the Copa Liberadores trophy and was also selected to represent his nation at under 20 level. Over the next 2 years Fernandez grew into a physical, and astute defender before his career reached new heights in 2011.
A certain Rafael Benitez was managing Napoli at the time when the club was in the market for a new central defender. The man they opted to sign was Federico Fernandez, recently called up to represent Argentina at senior level, the defender partnered with Benitez in Italy. Throughout his debut campaign Fernandez only made 9 substitute appearances for the club, however contributed noticeably in a Champions League draw against Bayern Munich, in which he scored twice, but ultimately ended up losing the game 3-2.
Benitez utilised the defender across a total of 9 matches before opting to loan him out to Spanish team Getafe for the remainder of the season. This short stint in Spain appeared to draw out a sense of leadership from the defender and when returning to Napoli was afforded more chances, racking up a total of 44 appearances under expert defensive tactician, Benitez.
In 2014, Swansea City, were playing Premier League football and pulled off a real coup when signing the Argentinian for just £8 million.This acquisition followed the defender starring in an Argentina team containing Lionel Messi which reached the World Cup Final. Fernandez was instrumental in maintaining Swansea’s top flight status on numerous occasions, until the team from South Wales were eventually relegated to the Championship. This relegation attributed no fault to Fernanzdez himself, who showed he can deal with, and lead at the highest level of English Football.
Life at Newcastle
Fernandez signed for the Magpies in 2018 following the clubs promotion back to the Premier League, reuniting the defender with Rafa Benitez. Following the footsteps of fellow Argentinians Jonas Gutierez, and Fabricio Coloccini, this signing occurred at a really exciting time for the club, with a healthy squad, great connection with the fans and a sense of genuine ambition to reunite the club with the higher tiers of the Premier League. The price tag of £6 million was an exceptional deal for a vastly experienced defender, of which held the approval of Benitez.
Fernandez has not always been a mainstay within our defence, but when trusted into our team has always look assured. Often lining up alongside our vocal captain Lascelles, Fernandez has been able to focus on his own performances, which have been impressively consistent. The 6’3 defender never hides away from a challenge and once in a while endures on a mazy run from deep, sometimes ending up in unnatural positions such as on the right wing of a Newcastle attack.
Following the departure of Benitez, Steve Bruce has also acknowledged the importance of the no-nonsense defender, who has now amounted 42 appearances for the club. Fernandez has also contributed with a couple of goals for the club this season, with a vital strike earning us a win against Southampton at St James Park in a 2-1 in December 2019.
What the future may hold
With today’s news that Fede has signed a 12 month contract extension with the club, we will see the Argentinian in black and white for at least one more season. In my opinion this is a great piece of business for both the player and the club, with the defenders experience, defensive ability, and leadership qualities improving our already strong back line. In terms of the deal benefiting the defender himself, it allows another season in the top flight in which he seems settled, especially with his South American compatriot and friend, Miguel Almiron, with the pair spending time with each others family on Xmas day. I look forward to continue seeing Fernandez putting his body on the line for the Toon Army, and who knows could be lifting a trophy with us before he departs!
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