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Chelsea accused of disrespect in bid for Fernandez as Benfica say only release clause offer will secure Argentine’s signature

16:53 GMT+3 05/01/2023
Enzo-Fernandez-Argentina-Chelsea-GFX-2
Chelsea have been accused of disrespecting Benfica in their ongoing efforts to turn Enzo Fernandez’s head and push through a move for the Argentine.
  • Blues keen on World Cup winner
  • Big-money bid being speculated on
  • Player distracted by exit rumours

WHAT HAPPENED? The World Cup-winning midfielder, who claimed the Young Player of the Tournament prize at Qatar 2022, is said to have emerged as a top target for Premier League heavyweights from Stamford Bridge during the January window. There has been talk of a €120 million (£106m/£127m) fee changing hands, with Fernandez having only moved to Portugal in the summer of 2022, but Chelsea are now said to be reluctant on doing business for a nine-figure sum and are instead looking to negotiate alternative terms for the 21-year-old - who has been missing training of late after flying back to his homeland as a transfer storm rages around him.

WHAT THEY SAID: Benfica are understandably less than impressed at how an unwelcome saga is playing out, with club boss Roger Schmidt saying of the Fernandez exit talk: “It was a subject talked about a lot 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 proposals, there is a lot of money at stake. He is a young man, 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 triggers 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.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Fernandez caught the eye for Argentina as they claimed a global crown in the Middle East and was expected to attract admiring glances from leading sides across Europe on the back of those performances.

IN TWO PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT? Chelsea spent big in the last transfer window – bringing in the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella – but Graham Potter is looking for more funding to be made available as he puts his own stamp on a squad inherited from Thomas Tuchel.