Chelsea sign Enzo Fernandez from Benfica for British record £106.8m fee

Chelsea broke the transfer record to sign Enzo Fernandez for £106.8m after 20 hours of relentless negotiations with Benfica on the January deadline day. They found the breakthrough on this deal on Tuesday, with official confirmation pending from Chelsea.

enzo fernandez

The £106.8m fee the Blues are set to pay Benfica in six instalments total is a new Premier League record for an incoming transfer, beating Jack Grealish’s £100m transfer from Aston Villa to Manchester City in the summer of 2021. Enzo Fernandez’s deal takes Chelsea’s spending under the Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital ownership to the north of £500m and is another sign of their determination to rule the transfer market.

It was only last summer that Benfica signed Fernandez from River Plate for around €14 million. The midfielder’s contract was secured by a £105.9m release clause and Benfica were resolute in their stance to be paid in full. The Blues failed with a bid earlier in the winter window but had made the Argentinean their top midfield target.

Graham Potter’s club were reluctant to trigger Fernandez’s £105.9m release clause due to fears over breaching financial fair play (FFP) rules and regulations. So, negotiations focused on payment structures that would satisfy the FFP rules and Chelsea ultimately agreed to pay a bigger transfer fee than the buyout clause but reportedly spread in many instalments.

Fernandez, 22, rise to the top has been rapid, even by modern football’s standards. He has established himself as one of the finest young players in world football in recent times, firstly showing brilliant form for Benfica this season before playing a key role in Argentina’s 2022 World Cup triumph in December. Following his exploits at the World Cup in Qatar, the Argentinean had attracted plenty of interest from top European clubs but Chelsea eventually won the race for his signature.

Enzo Fernandez has the qualities to transform Chelsea’s midfield

Chelsea haven’t enjoyed a great season in the Premier League and currently lie in 10th. They are out of both cup competitions and face a fight to qualify for the Champions League.

Despite Graham Potter failing to steady the ship since taking over from Thomas Tuchel, the hierarchy have backed Potter by signings players such as Mykhaylo Mudryk, Joao Felix, Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke, Andrey Santos and Davide Datro Fofana. Malo Gusto was bought from Lyon and loaned back to the Ligue 1 club until the end of the season.

Enzo Fernandez was the Blues’ final January acquisition, and undoubtedly the biggest. He became Potter’s priority signing as Chelsea wanted to reinforce their midfield. N’Golo Kante is out of contract in the summer and Jorginho joined London rivals Arsenal late in the transfer window, leaving the Blues light in the midfield department.

Fernandez looks ideal for Chelsea’s requirements right now, and he will offer their engine room with the energy, vision, bite, dynamism and creativity that they have lacked for large parts of the campaign. The 2022 World Cup winner has already been performing at an elite level and possesses the qualities to transform the Pensioners’ midfield.

An all-action midfield powerhouse, it’ll be interesting to see how quickly Fernandez shrugs off the mighty price tag and adapts to the hustle and bustle of Premier League football, but there’s no doubt he has the skill-set and talent to play at the highest level judging from his performances at the World Cup.

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