Enzo Fernandez is ready to join Chelsea from Benfica with the Blues beginning ‘direct talks’ with the Portuguese outfit, according to transfer expert Fabrizio Romano.
The Blues are looking to strengthen their midfield in January as owner Todd Boehly looks to give Chelsea boss Graham Potter the tools to finish off the season in style.
It has not been plain sailing for Potter since taking over from Thomas Tuchel in September with Chelsea currently eighth in the Premier League standings – but a 2-0 victory against Bournemouth in their first league game back has relieved some of the pressure.
Midfielders seem to be in-demand ahead of the January transfer window with Fernandez, Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham, Fiorentina’s Sofyan Amrabat and Barcelona’s Franck Kessie among the stars linked with a move to the Premier League.
But Chelsea seem to have honed in on one target, in the form of Benfica’s Fernandez, after the Argentina international won the World Cup Young Player of the Tournament award in Qatar.
He was already on the radar of a number of clubs around Europe but his performances at the World Cup have seen his stock increase dramatically.
Fernandez only moved to Benfica in the summer from Argentina giants River Plate for a fee that could rise to €18m but it now looks like he could be leaving sooner rather than later.
Earlier this week, Benfica president Rui Costa was quoted as saying Fernandez would be able to leave the club in January if his release clause was met but the Portuguese club released a statement on Thursday to deny those claims.
The statement read: “SL Benfica clarifies that at no time did the President of the Club, Rui Costa, utter the words that are being disseminated in Italy by DAZN.
“Sport Lisboa e Benfica reiterates its intention to count on the player Enzo Fernández until the end of the season.”
Romano adds that Chelsea ‘want to offer huge fee instead of paying release clause in one solution’ so that they can spread the payments with the €120m release clause required up front.
It is understood that Fernandez has ‘already said yes to Chelsea’ and that Manchester United and Liverpool have ‘made no bid, as of now’.
READ MORE: Enzo Fernandez for Jorginho will see chaos replace stability as Chelsea move with the midfield tide
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