‘I can’t accept what they’re doing’: Schmidt accuses Chelsea of being ‘disrespectul’ in Fernandez pursuit

Jason Soutar
Roger Schmidt during an interview

Benfica boss Roger Schmidt has condemned “disrespectful” Chelsea for ‘pretending’ they can pay Enzo Fernandez’s release clause.

Chelsea boss Graham Potter has made Fernandez one of his top January targets and Todd Boehly seems prepared to go and get the Argentina midfielder.

Despite reports of a €130million bid – which is higher than the player’s release clause – it is believed that Chelsea actually offered €85m, which was rejected.

Instead, club president Rui Costa wants the 21-year-old’s release clause triggered. That fee is thought to be either €120m or €127m.

Potter is eager to bolster his midfield and given the terrific World Cup Fernandez had with winners Argentina, it is no surprise to see the Blues express an interest.

Negotiations are at a standstill though after Benfica turned down the €85m bid, which is around €40m off the club’s asking price.

Chelsea may yet go back in for Fernandez, but Schmidt is less than impressed with the Premier League side’s negotiating tactics.

Schmidt has told the Blues that Benfica do not want to sell the midfielder and has called them “disrespectful” for a few things.

First off, the Benfica boss says the Blues “tried to get the player on their side” and have made Fernandez go “crazy”.

It has been reported that the former River Plate man told the Portuguese club that he wanted to leave and did not turn up for two training sessions over the last week.

Secondly, Boehly apparently indicated that he “can pay the clause” before then deciding to negotiate the transfer fee.

Thirdly, Chelsea “know” the only way they can get Fernandez is by paying his whopping release clause, yet are being rascals during the negotiating process.

In full, Schmidt said (as relayed by Ben Jacobs): “There’s a club who want our player. They know we don’t want to sell the player.

“They tried to get the player on their side and they know they only can get this player when they pay the clause. So it’s a very clear situation…

“What the club is doing who wants to buy Enzo is disrespectful against all of us, against Benfica and I cannot accept what they are doing. So to make the player crazy and then to pretend they can pay the clause and later they want to negotiate…

“I think it is not what I understand about a good relationship between clubs who maybe want to discuss about the player.”

Should a deal fall through, it is unclear if Chelsea have another central midfielder lined up.

The scouting team will probably hang back and wait for someone like Arsenal or Manchester United to bid for a player before deciding they want to hijack the deal.

The Blues also want Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhaylo Mudryk, who is believed to be the Gunners’ number-one target this month.

READ MORE: Foden in and Sterling out: Chelsea lucky to have two inclusions in combined XI with Man City