Chelsea ‘agree British record deal’ to sign World Cup winner for more than £105m release clause

Lewis Oldham
Chelsea target Fernandez

Chelsea have reportedly ‘agreed a British record deal’ to sign Benfica and Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez ahead of Tuesday night’s transfer deadline.

Fernandez only joined Benfica as he made the move to Portugal from River Plate. He has been quick to make an impact and this led to him being named the best young player at the World Cup as Argentina won the tournament for a third time.

His recent form has attracted interest from Premier League clubs. Liverpool were initially linked with him but Chelsea later emerged as the frontrunner to sign him in January.

Talks with the Blues and Benfica broke down as the English club were reportedly showing no willingness to activate his £105m release clause. The Portuguese side have made it clear that Fernandez will only move on if this fee is met.

But Chelsea have restarted discussions with Benfica over the transfer in recent days. Graeme Bailey revealed on Monday afternoon that Graham Potter’s side have ‘agreed £115m British record deal’ to sign the midfielder.

He adds that Benfica will ‘take payments in instalments’ with the transfer set to be completed before this week’s deadline.

Earlier on Monday, David Ornstein of The Athletic suggested that this report from Bailey is inaccurate as Chelsea have in fact ‘made an offer worth £105m’.

It would still be a record buy for a British club, with the current record being the £100m transfer that saw Jack Grealish join Man City from Aston Villa in 2021. He adds that Chelsea are ‘insistent on getting the deal done’ and it now looks likely.

Sky Sports reporter Dharmesh Sheth has suggested that Chelsea are keen to get the signing over the line now so they avoid a bidding war in the summer.

“Rui Costa and Benfica have been stubborn all window that it has to be the release clause up front or the transfer doesn’t happen,” Sheth told Sky Sports.

“By going in now, Chelsea don’t want to be embroiled with rival clubs over the summer. They think more clubs will be interested in Fernandez over the summer.”

Kaveh Solhekol added: “Chelsea have brought in a lot of players this month and they need to let players go before the deadline closes.

“One of the players that could leave is Conor Gallagher. The situation as far as he is concerned is that Everton have made it clear that they are willing to pay £40m for him plus £5m in add-ons.

“But the latest information that we are receiving is that Gallagher does not want to go to Everton, at the moment.

“He has lots of other interest, clubs in the Premier League and in Europe trying to sign him on loan and permanent deals.”

He continued: “Lots of other interest in players like Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Hakim Ziyech. I think Chelsea’s squad at the moment is something like 32 players. They need to sell and at least loan out a few of them.”

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