Enzo Fernandez has given his clearest indication yet that he will not be joining Chelsea this month with his celebration in front of Benfica’s supporters on Tuesday evening. Chelsea have made Fernandez their top midfield target following his impressive performances for Argentina during their World Cup success last month.
However, Benfica have been angered by Chelsea’s negotiating tactics and claim the Premier League side have offered a lower deal than what was discussed during talks over the Christmas period. Benfica have been adamant that Fernandez will not leave unless his €120 million (£106m) release clause is triggered, although it’s understood that the midfielder is keen on a move to Chelsea.
Fernandez scored Benfica’s second goal in their 2-0 win over Varzim on Tuesday night which secured their place in the quarter final of the Portuguese Cup. And during his celebrations in front of Benfica’s travelling supporters, the 21-year-old tapped the club’s badge, pointed to himself and then to the floor, which many Benfica fans have taken as a sign that he is staying. When asked about Fernandez after the game, Benfica’s head coach Roger Schmidt told RTP3:
‘I never had any doubts about his attitude or his personality. He’s a great person, he’s at Benfica and he loves playing for Benfica.’
When asked if he expects the midfielder to remain at Benfica for the rest of the season, Schmidt replied:
‘I hope so.’
The celebration comes after reports last week claimed that Benfica’s president, Rui Costa, had personally warned Fernandez about joining Chelsea this month and advised the midfielder that he should wait to see which other clubs emerge at the end of the season . Fernandez has been disciplined by Benfica after he returned to Argentina without permission for New Year celebrations.
‘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 proposals, there is a lot of money at stake,’
Schmidt said last week. ‘He is a young man player, this is confusing, we all understand this. But he is an excellent person. ‘He was not authorised to go to Argentina, it is not acceptable, there will be consequences, I will not say which ones. ‘We do not want to sell him, neither I nor the president. we 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.’