The attempts of Enzo Fernandez to push through his Chelsea transfer could have major consequences amid claims Benfica are planning to sanction the midfielder.
Fernandez appeared set to link up with Liverpool after his high-quality performances for Argentina at the World Cup. Jurgen Klopp’s side had apparently reached a pre-contract agreement with him and were planning to match his massive release clause. That stands at €120million (£105m).
Other reports claimed Klopp to be contacting Liverpool recruitment chiefs every day about the potential signing. He views Fernandez as an ideal solution to Liverpool’s midfield woes.
Manchester United joined the race for the Benfica man on December 23. However, suggestions they were preparing to pay big money for Fernandez were soon debunked.
Instead, it is Chelsea who emerged as the biggest rivals to Liverpool for a deal. They soon began discussions with Benfica over his potential move to Stamford Bridge.
Benfica want to keep Fernandez for the remainder of the season before selling him for a huge fee in the summer. But Chelsea are willing to match his £105m release clause this winter, setting up the possibility of an immediate move.
According to an update from transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, Chelsea are ‘insisting’ on getting an agreement reached with Benfica. The decision now rests with their president, former AC Milan star Rui Costa.
Sport Witness have provided some more detail on the transfer saga, while citing Portuguese newspaper O Jogo. It is claimed Fernandez is trying to push through his Chelsea switch and has not been behaving well at Benfica as a result.
Benfica left angry amid Enzo Fernandez actions
Over the New Year period, the Primeira Liga club told their players they could have a few days off as long as they did not travel too far away from Lisbon.
But Fernandez took the opportunity to go back to his native Argentina, potentially to continue the World Cup triumph celebrations. Due to this decision, he was absent for two Benfica training sessions on Monday.
This is another sign Fernandez wants out of Benfica. He clearly does not want to be part of their squad anymore.
Club chiefs are not pleased with his behaviour and are currently drawing up sanctions. They will fine the 21-year-old, no matter if his exit goes through or not.
The report also provides some detail on the situation Costa finds himself in. The money on offer to sell Fernandez is obviously very tempting. It would allow him to improve several positions in January, and at the end of the season too.
Rui Costa would frustrate Benfica supporters with sale
However, letting Fernandez leave would anger the fans as it would immediately weaken the midfield. It would also show the other Benfica players they can push through an exit to a bigger club if they try hard enough.
As such, Costa is torn as to whether sell Fernandez or make an example out of him and reject Chelsea’s advances, no matter the bid.
Chelsea do have alternatives, just in case their pursuit of Fernandez comes to nothing. As per CBS Sports journalist Ben Jacobs, they maintain an interest in Ajax’s Edson Alvarez.
There is also the potential to make Denis Zakaria’s loan move permanent.
But neither Alvarez or Zakaria are performing at Fernandez’s level right now. At the World Cup, he showed he has the potential to become one of the best midfielders in the world.
So Chelsea should keep all of their focus on him until Costa comes back with a final transfer decision.
Meanwhile, the likes of Man Utd and Chelsea have found out where Declan Rice wants to go when leaving West Ham.
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