Fernandez set for Benfica return: 'Now we can focus on football'

AFP

Roger Schmidt is looking forward to having Enzo Fernandez back in training after declaring the Benfica midfielder had a "clean slate" after missing Friday's Primeira Liga win.

Fernandez was one of the stars of Argentina's World Cup success in Qatar, earning interest from a host of big clubs.

Chelsea were thought to be close to his signing at one stage this week, but the Blues' reported refusal to meet the 21-year-old's release clause, said to be a huge £106million (€120m), provided a stumbling block.

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", and Fernandez was missing from his Benfica side against Portimonense.

But with Schmidt also adamant Benfica were not looking to sell Fernandez, the World Cup winner appears set to continue his career in Portugal from Saturday.

Speaking after a 1-0 Benfica win, the coach said: "We have a clean slate today.

"In the news conference yesterday, I clearly said that Enzo had not been well in the last week. That is why he was not in the team.

"But tomorrow I will be very happy to see him back in training. He is our player. I count on him to win games and titles. We need him to be champions. Now we can focus on football."

Fernandez had played in last week's 3-0 defeat to Braga – Benfica's first loss of the season – but missed their first home match since the World Cup.

He therefore did not enjoy the same tribute as Benfica and Argentina team-mate Nicolas Otamendi on Friday.

"[The tribute] was very important for me and my family," said Otamendi, speaking to Benfica TV.

"Enzo couldn't be there, but he will also have his tribute, because he is also part of what we [Argentina] achieved as a team.

"It is a tribute in our stadium, with our fans, who I will remember for the rest of my life, because I won a very important title in my career and obviously they are part of that title."