Chelsea are reportedly close to pulling off a £120million signing of Benfica’s World Cup star Enzo Fernandez, beating Liverpool to the midfielder as the Blues have made a breakthrough in their negotiations with the Portuguese side. Graham Potter’s side have been attempting to sign the Argentine in January, but were not prepared to pay his £103m release clause.
Financial Fair Play concerns ensured that if Chelsea were to pay the entire fee for Fernandez up front, they could be hampered down the line in future dealings. Benfica had previously insisted that the 21-year-old would only leave the club if that fee was met however, having only joined the club in the summer.
Di Marzio has claimed that negotiations are at an advanced stage between the two clubs, and Chelsea are prepared to pay £13m over his release clause in order to seal a deal on their terms as they are now able to stagger payments to Benfica.
Chelsea will pay the fee to Benfica in three installments, according to the report, while Benfica are also closing in on Fernandez’s replacement in Carlos Alcaraz from Argentine outfit Racing Club.
Chelsea have been active this window, having already already a deal to bring Christopher Nkunku to Stamford Bridge in the summer. Striker David Datro Fofana has joined from Genk, while the Blues are also close to securing a £33m move for Monaco defender Benoit Badiashile.
Following the dismal 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest on Sunday, which saw Chelsea’s transfer policy questioned by Liverpool icon Graeme Souness, they will hope to get a deal for Fernandez completed swiftly for him to join up with his new team-mates.
There is a small chance he could feature against Manchester City on Thursday, though he would need to have been officially signed by midday on Wednesday in order to play a part according to Premier League rules.