Chelsea ‘inform’ Benfica they are ‘willing’ to pay ‘€120m without players involved’ for Fernandez

Jason Soutar
Enzo Fernandez during a match

Chelsea are ‘willing’ to make a €120million offer without players involved for Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez, according to Cesar Luis Merlo.

Fernandez is the only one of Chelsea’s top targets they have been unable to buy so far this month.

The Blues have spent close to £200m on seven new faces in what has been an unprecedented winter window.

Their biggest issue going into the window was perhaps their midfield, yet Graham Potter’s side have been unable to recruit in that position, despite the amount of money that has been splashed out.

Fernandez has also been linked with Liverpool and Manchester United, but Chelsea have been very active this month in trying to sign the 2022 World Cup Young Player of the Tournament.

However, the Premier League club’s pursuit has been hindered by Benfica’s asking price.

The 22-year-old has a €120m (£105m) release clause and director of football Rio Costa has told the Blues to pay that in full if they want to sign him.

Chelsea initially unsettled the player, who did not report for training earlier this month, and the club have p*ssed off Benfica fans and their manager, Roger Schmidt.

Potter’s side reportedly put a huge fee, plus players, on the table to sign Fernandez. Hakim Ziyech was apparently offered, while Benfica were given the chance to sign David Datro Fofana and Andrey Santos on loan.

The Portuguese giants were not interested, however, and are always insisting that they want Chelsea to make one, full payment, of €120m.

Understandably, the Blues are reluctant to do this, mainly because of Financial Fair Play rules.

Chelsea are definitely willing to put a huge fee on the table for Fernandez, but over multiple payments.

And now, journalist Cesar Luis Merlo has claimed that Chelsea will meet Benfica’s €120m asking price, but not by triggering their release clause.

This could be tempting as the Portuguese side may struggle to get that much for the Argentina midfielder in the future, but they will probably remain stern with their demands.

Merlo says the Blues will not include players in this bid, but the release clause fee being paid in multiple payments will not tickle the fancy of Rui Costa.

The journalist wrote on Twitter: “More on the subject Enzo Fernández: Chelsea informed the club that they are willing to improve the offer to € 120M without players involved.

“For now, Rui Costa continues with his position of not parting with him. The footballer, as said, remains on the sidelines.”

Chelsea completed their seventh signing on Sunday, announcing the acquisition of Lyon right-back Malo Gusto, who will stay in France until the end of the season.

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