Chelsea have made little progress in their pursuit of Benfica star Enzo Fernandez. The Portuguese outfit are unhappy with how the Blues have handled negotiations, with recently appointed director Christopher Vivell leading talks for the west Londoners. Fernandez was a star performer for Argentina as they won the World Cup in Qatar, winning the Young Player of the Tournament award.
The 21- year-old is a priority target for Chelsea in the January transfer window, but a deal is complicated due to his £105million release clause and former club River Plate being owed 25% of any fee Benfica receives for his services. football.london understands the Blues want to add a new forward, central midfielder, centre-back and right wing-back to Graham Potter’s squad. The arrival of Benoit Badiashile will bolster the defence, but midfield remains a key area to strengthen for Chelsea with N’Golo Kante and Jorginho facing uncertain futures at Stamford Bridge.
The latest reports suggest that Fernandez’s dream move to the Premier League has ‘collapsed’ with Benfica insisting that the Blues must pay his release clause or there will be no deal. The Argentina international now looks set to be dropped entirely from the matchday squad to play Portimonense this evening. Benfica boss Roger Schmidt discussed Fernandez’s situation at the club in his press conference on Thursday afternoon . Schmidt said:
“It was a very talked-about subject this week. “Enzo is a good guy and an extraordinary player, we want him to stay, the situation is not easy. He played in the World Cup, won the World Cup, had offers, there is a lot of money at stake. “He is a young man player, this is confusing, we all understand that. But he is an excellent person. He was not authorized to go to Argentina, it is not acceptable, there will be consequences, I will not say which ones.
Schmidt doubled down on Benfica’s stance: pay the release clause or no deal. The Portuguese outfit’s manager added:
“We do not want to sell him, neither I nor the president. “People know that there is a release clause, if he wants to leave and someone violates the clause, maybe we lose the player. There is a club that wants him, they tried to attract him, but they know that they can only have him if they pay the clause. “It’s disrespectful to all of us, to Benfica, they’re driving the player crazy, they pretend they want to pay the clause and then they want to negotiate. That’s all I’m going to say about Enzo and I’m not going to answer any more questions about it.”
Fernandez looks set to stay in Portugal unless Chelsea stump up £105million in full, opposed to their preferred payment structure in three separate instalments over the next three years. Should a deal collapse, it could see the Blues target alternative players such as Brighton’s Moises Caicedo.