Fazio made his professional debut as an 18-year-old for Argentine second division side Ferro Carril Oeste in 2005. By January 2007, La Liga outfit Sevilla had snapped him up for €800,000. Wary of the gulf in quality between Spanish and Argentine football, however, his new club initially placed him with their second team, Sevilla Atletico, to help ease the youngster's process of adaptation.
The club needn’t have worried. Fazio enjoyed a strong campaign, helping Sevilla Atletico win promotion to the Spanish second division for the first time in 46 years, and by August 2007 he was starting for the seniors in the Spanish Supercup at Santiago Bernabeu. Undaunted by the occasion, he played the whole game as Sevilla went on to lift the trophy with a 6-3 aggregate victory over Real Madrid.
Now 27, Fazio has two European and four domestic trophies to his name in seven years with Sevilla, including their recent Europa League win. That’s no small feat considering los Nervionenses’ modest finances.
Why you need to know him
Sevilla had understandably high hopes for Fazio after his rapid rise to the senior team, but injury problems that first emerged in 2008 prevented the defender from showing his true ability for a large stretch of his early years in Andalucia. In truth, though, that absence from the spotlight has probably helped Sevilla to retain him longer than they would have expected, and in recent campaigns those physical issues have mostly disappeared. It's led to consistent performances from the Argentine, who was one of the best centre-backs in La Liga last season.
Although a senior Argentina international, Fazio was ignored by Alejandro Sabella when the former Albiceleste manager drew up his squad list for the 2014 World Cup – but that isn’t likely to continue for much longer. New Argentina coach Gerardo Martino is well aware of Fazio from their time together in La Liga, so if and when El Tata recalls the defender to the national team, his value is likely to increase significantly. Now is a smart time for Tottenham to sign the centre-back.
Fazio is a powerhouse of a defender, unlikely to lose out in a man-to-man battle and aggressive in winning the ball. That can sometimes prove costly in terms of his card count, with the Argentine suspended twice in all competitions last season, but it’s a natural consequence of his brave style of defending, which for the most part is an asset.
The centre-back is one of the best in La Liga aerially, and along with the above strengths it makes him a solid candidate to succeed in the Premier League. His heading ability makes him a good target at set-pieces; the defender was regularly on the end of corners or free-kicks at Sevilla.
Technically sound, Fazio is comfortable initiating play from the back and is happy to step into the midfield when required. A good example of his qualities in practice was the recent all-Spanish Super Cup final, where Fazio was probably one of the best players on the pitch despite Sevilla’s 2-0 loss to Real Madrid.
Fazio’s aggression can occasionally be a problem: he conceded three penalties in all competitions last season, a third of all the spot-kicks Sevilla gave up. He isn’t the quickest central defender in the world either, though in recent years he's learned to pick the moments at which to push forward more carefully.
The biggest concern for any club signing the Argentine is his injury record. As mentioned, injuries had a major impact on his first few years at Sevilla. Fazio has played more games in each of the last three seasons than he did in his first four with the Andalucians, however, so those fitness worries are potentially a thing of the past.
Unai Emery isn’t exactly thrilled about losing Fazio, and said as much in his press conference this Friday, “Losing him is a setback because he’s our captain and he had reached a really high level,” grumbled the Sevilla chief. “But player exits at the last minute is a constant theme in Sevilla and we have to adapt to it.” The club will struggle to replace the player's quality at such a late hour in the transfer window.
Did you know?
In 2011, Sevilla-based journalists asked Fazio about rumours that his younger brother had come to the city to play. The defender acknowledged the presence of his family member in the Andalucian capital, before admitting somewhat sheepishly that he was playing with Sevilla’s grand rivals Real Betis. Oops.
What happens next?
Sevilla didn’t expect to lose Fazio this summer, presuming he was content to stay with the club after buying a new house in the city, but a lack of movement to renew his contract has irked the defender. Valued at a mere €10 million, it’s no surprise that other clubs have taken notice, particularly as centre-backs are like gold dust in the current market.
Fazio’s agent has already held talks with Spurs, and Sevilla boss Emery acknowledged on Friday that it is unlikely the La Liga side will be able to keep him at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan beyond this weekend. The Andalucians are expected to make one last desperate attempt to retain his services, but the lure of Premier League football under compatriot Mauricio Pochettino is likely to prove too strong to resist.