Enzo Fernandez misses Benfica match after Chelsea pursuit

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Enzo Fernandez has been left out of Benfica's matchday squad for Friday's Primeira Liga match with Portimonense after Roger Schmidt's criticism of suitors Chelsea.

Fernandez's excellent World Cup displays for Argentina in Qatar have attracted interest from a range of top clubs, with Chelsea thought to be close to his signing at one stage this week.

But the Blues' reported refusal to meet the midfielder's release clause, which is said to be a huge £106million (€120m), provided a stumbling block.

However, the transfer, which would have made Fernandez a record signing for a Premier League club, reportedly hit a stumbling block on Wednesday after the Blues tried to negotiate a lower fee.

Benfica head coach Schmidt said Chelsea's approach showed "a lack of respect" to his club, suggesting the Premier League side were trying to "drive the player crazy".

Fernandez had already missed numerous Benfica training sessions having returned to Argentina without the club's permission, but Schmidt has insisted they do not wish to sell the 21-year-old.

On Friday, Schmidt chose to leave Fernandez out of the team for an important fixture at home to eighth-placed Portimonense.

League leaders Benfica are in need of a positive result having been thumped 3-0 by closest challengers Braga last week, a first defeat of the season that closed their lead at the top to just three points.

Fernandez started in that match, with Schmidt revealing afterwards he was unsure if it would be his last game for the club, having only joined from River Plate last year.