Chelsea are prepared to smash the Premier League’s all-time transfer record to sign Enzo Fernandez six months early in January, and the huge coup would have two major effects on Liverpool’s proposed move for Jude Bellingham.
The Blues were the biggest spenders in world football last summer, forking out around £280m on new signings. However, rather than rein it in, Todd Boehly and co. are determined to double down and continue their squad overhaul.
A deal for Christopher Nkunku has been secured with the French forward due to arrive from RB Leipzig next summer.
Striker David Datro Fofana will complete his move from Molde to Stamford Bridge when the January transfer window opens on Monday. Elsewhere, the Guardian report Boehly is attempting to hijack Arsenal’s move for Ukraine stand-out, Mykhaylo Mudryk.
All three of the aforementioned players are attackers, but today’s update concerns the deeper position of central midfield.
World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez is a man in demand following a superb six months for club and country.
The 21-year-old only joined Benfica from River Plate over the summer, though is already line for another step up in class.
Liverpool and Man Utd have both been linked, though neither are prepared to trigger Benfica’s €120m (approx. £106m) release clause. Indeed, Fabrizio Romano recently confirmed neither have made a bid as yet.
However, Chelsea have since emerged as a genuine contender to land the Argentina international and remarkably, could pay over the odds.
Chelsea willing to set new record
Rather than meet the £106m release clause, the Metro reported Chelsea could agree to pay an even higher sum if the deal were structured in their favour. In other words, the sums would be paid in instalments and thus ensure Chelsea don’t have to pay £106m+ in one go.
The current Premier League record for a single transfer stands at the £100m Man City paid Aston Villa to sign Jack Grealish. Any move for Fernandez – either in January or beyond – looks certain to see a new benchmark set.
Benfica have repeatedly maintained they’d not sell Fernandez in January unless the release clause were met. However, per Romano, Chelsea are determined to land the midfielder in the winter window.
The transfer guru – who previously stated Chelsea were in ‘direct talks’ with Benfica – tweeted the Blues plan to sign Fernandez ‘immediately’.
They’ll ‘push again’ in the coming days to secure the coup and a decision on whether to sell now rests entirely with the Portuguese club. That’s because Fernandez has reportedly given the green light to joining Chelsea and as such, [personal terms won’t be an issue.
The sight of Fernandez in Benfica’s starting eleven to face Braga on Friday heightened speculation a deal wasn’t close.
However, Romano suggested that was a red herring, with the Argentine insisting he still be considered for selection so as not to disrespect Benfica.
How does Fernandez affect Bellingham to Liverpool?
If Chelsea are able to secure Fernandez, there’d be two clear effects on the future of another midfield talisman – Jude Bellingham.
Chelsea are known to be among the Englishman’s five primary suitors ahead of a move next summer. The other four are Real Madrid, Man Utd, Man City and Liverpool.
The Reds are believed to be best-placed to secure a deal at present and have put in the most work behind the scenes.
Jurgen Klopp is a huge admirer of Bellingham and Liverpool’s midfield deficiencies were again there for all to see against Leicester on Friday night.
Common sense would dictate that if Chelsea do sign Fernandez, they’d be less likely to land Bellingham too six months later.
Furthermore, Fernandez has persistently been talked up as an alternative to Bellingham at Anfield if a deal for the 19-year-old eludes them.
If Fernandez were to be removed from the equation by joining Chelsea, Liverpool would be doubly determined to land Bellingham.
Cheaper solutions have been linked, such as Fiorentina’s Sofyan Amrabat. However, it’s clear Liverpool’s midfield is in desperate need of a huge new addition and Fernandez joining Chelsea would enhance Liverpool’s prospects of responding in kind with Bellingham.
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