'I didn't want him to wear the shirt again' - Enzo Fernandez blasted by Benfica president Rui Costa after completing record-breaking Chelsea transfer
- Fernandez completed move on deadline day
- Benfica wanted to keep him
- Player was adamant about leaving
WHAT HAPPENED? Chelsea snapped up Fernandez from Benfica on transfer deadline day for a fee of £106.8 million ($131m), which smashed the British record set by Jack Grealish in 2021. However, Costa wanted to keep the World Cup winner until the summer and was even prepared to accept a lower fee. But Fernandez insisted on moving to the Premier League in January and had no desire to extend his stay in Portugal. The club president took offence to the way in which the Argentine conducted himself and hit out at the player in a press conference after the transfer was made official.
WHAT THEY SAID: "Enzo Fernandez did not want to stay at Benfica. He didn’t give us any chance. I did my best, I’m sad, but I’m not going to cry for a player who didn’t want to stay," he told reporters. "When Chelsea arrived, it was really impossible to change his mind. During deadline day we found an agreement to sell Enzo to Chelsea in the summer but he didn’t want to stay. From the moment Enzo realised [Chelsea would pay] the value of the clause it was unrelenting. We tried to insist, but the player did not show any openness to continuing at Benfica."
"I proposed to Chelsea that he stay until the summer for a lower value, but the player did not want to continue at Benfica – and this is when everything changed. At that point I said, 'He can’t play for Benfica anymore, no way!' I don’t cry for players who don’t want to wear our shirt," he added.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Benfica lead the Primeira Liga with 50 points from 18 matches and Costa wanted Fernandez to play an important role in winning the championship. However, the midfielder made it clear that he wanted to leave which forced the official to sell the player. "I had the hope that Enzo would want to fight for the championship title with us," he continued. "When I realised that he didn’t want to, I also didn’t want him to wear the Benfica shirt again. A player who even with the possibility of not losing a Euro and with a secure Chelsea contract, does not want to continue, could never stay at Benfica. This player could no longer enter the locker room."
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WHAT NEXT FOR FERNANDEZ? The 2022 World Cup winner has already trained with his teammates at Cobham and would hope to make it to the starting XI when Chelsea play Fulham on Friday in the Premier League.