Chelsea reopen talks with Benfica over midfielder Enzo Fernandez
Chelsea have reopened talks with Benfica over trying to sign midfielder Enzo Fernandez ahead of the transfer window closing on Tuesday night in a move that would push the club’s spending past £500 million under the Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital ownership.
Benfica rejected a bid early in the window, which was thought to be around £70 million, plus add-ons, but Chelsea have made it clear they are prepared to go higher to get a deal done.
It is understood that Chelsea believe they have a chance of pulling off what would be a stunning end to an incredible transfer window in which they have already signed Mykhaylo Mudryk, Joao Felix on loan, Benoit Badiashile and Noni Madueke, plus a host of promising youngsters.
Across the summer and January windows, Chelsea have already spent over £450 million and adding Fernandez to their signings would take Boehly and Clearlake’s spending past £500 million.
Co controlling-owner Behdad Eghbali and recruitment chief Paul Winstanley flew to Turkey to close the £88 million Mudryk deal in person with Shakhtar Donetsk and sources believe Chelsea officials are ready to do the same by travelling to Portugal in the hope of returning with Fernandez.
Reports in Portugal have claimed that Chelsea have made two new proposals for Fernandez, one that would see them pay around £85 million and allow a player to move to Benfica and another to meet the £105 million release clause but pay the fee in instalments.
Benfica have always insisted that they would only sell Fernandez this month if his release clause was triggered in one payment, which Chelsea had privately claimed they were not prepared to do.
But having also failed with bids for Brighton’s wantaway star Moises Caicedo, who they could still also make a new offer for, and Everton’s Amadou Onana, Chelsea have made a last-gasp effort to strike an agreement with Benfica over Fernandez.
Chelsea’s move for Fernandez has been backed by head coach Graham Potter, who was hugely impressed by the Argentina international’s performances at the World Cup in Qatar.
Fernandez is known to want a move to Chelsea this month, so convincing the player and agreeing personal terms so late in the transfer window would not be a problem.
Benfica manager Roger Schmidt hit out at Chelsea following their first bid for Fernandez, accusing the London club of unsettling the player and moving the goalposts over their offer.
But Fernandez has since returned to the Benfica team and is said to be waiting patiently to find out whether or not Chelsea can succeed in signing him in the next 48 hours.
Should a deal to sign Fernandez this month prove impossible so late in the window, it remains to be seen whether or not Chelsea would try to set up a summer switch for the 22-year-old.
Chelsea on Sunday announced the signing of right-back Malo Gusto, who will remain on loan at Lyon for the rest of the season before moving to Stamford Bridge.
Gusto, a 19-year-old France Under-21 international, has signed a contract that has him committed to Chelsea until 2030.