Chelsea finally agree payment structure with Benfica over £112million Enzo Fernandez deal
Enzo Fernandez is now very close to joining Chelsea after the west London club agreed a payment structure in principle with Benfica over a £112million deal, according to reports. The Blues, who are languishing in eighth place in the Premier League table, are keen to invest heavily this month and have already agreed a deal with Monaco for Benoit Badiashile while they also want to bring in a new midfielder.
Chelsea’s new-look recruitment team have identified World Cup winner Fernandez as the ideal signing to reinvigorate their ageing midfield, though Benfica have been adamant he will only leave if his £106m release clause is paid in full. That has proven to be something of a stumbling block and Chelsea have been locked in negotiations for weeks, though Fernandez has already agreed personal terms with the club.
Now Sky Sport Italia’s Gianluca Di Marzio claims a compromise has been found and talks are at an advanced stage with Todd Bohely ready to shatter the club’s transfer record. Chelsea have agreed to pay in excess of the 21- year-old’s release clause in exchange for Benfica accepting the fee in a series of instalments over several years. The total outlay for the deal will reach £112million but will be paid in three instalments in each of the next three transfer windows, with each payment totalling around £37m. Chelsea would have risked breaching Financial Fair Play rules if they had agreed to pay the whole fee in one lump sump and it would have massively diluted their ability to buy other targets.
The last details of the deal are now being agreed and there is confidence from all parties that the transfer can be wrapped up quickly. Benfica are already lining up a replacement and will look to raid Argentina once again, this time targeting Racing’s Carlos Alcaraz who is likely to cost around £15m.
Chelsea boss Graham Potter, as well as the club’s recruitment team, have pinpointed the midfield as an area of significant weakness while they are likely to lose both Jorginho and N’Golo Kante on free transfers in the summer when their contracts expire. Benfica spent around £17m on Fernandez back in June, meaning they stand to make a mammoth profit – though former club River Plate will be entitled to a cut of the profits.
Fernandez would not have been granted a work permit to join an English club back in the summer, having not started for Argentina at that point, but his starring role at the World Cup has changed his situation. He has shone in both the Portuguese league and Champions League this season, scoring once and laying on four assists in 19 appearances across the two competitions, and Chelsea feel he has the ability and potential to marshal their midfield for the next decade.