As Enzo Fernandez’s record transfer to Chelsea edges closer to completion, some fans could be forgiven for believing that the deal has come as a direct result of his stellar World Cup display with Argentina. But as the Benfica starlet revealed before he had even sealed his move to join the Portuguese giants last year, he had already set his sights on using the club as a ‘springboard’ for bigger things in his career.
The 21-year-old has verbally agreed personal terms on a long-term contract that will run to 2028, with the Argentinian set to pocket a lucrative £8.8m (€10m) annual salary that equates to around £170,000-a-week.
The two clubs are finalising the last details on Fernandez’s £112million (€127m) switch, which would break the record for a Premier League signing set when Manchester City acquired Jack Grealish from Aston Villa for £100m in August 2021.
It is also set to land Benfica a huge profit on the fee they paid just six months ago and River Plate a reported £30m windfall due to a sell-on clause that the Argentinian club included in the terms of the sale.
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Dozens of players have taken the portal from South America to Benfica, Sporting and Porto, earning the Portuguese clubs hundreds of millions in transfer profit when they have decided to sell. And the fact Fernandez wanted to follow the likes of Angel Di Maria, Darwin Nunez and Ederson to Lisbon led some to question if he was using the club as a stepping stone before heading off to an elite European club.
Back in July 2022, Fernandez had been spotted waving goodbye to his family at Bueno Aires airport before he was due to fly in to seal his move from River Plate to Benfica in a deal worth £9m. When asked directly by reporters about that possibility, Fernandez revealed that he was aware of the opportunities that would come his way as a result of signing for the Portuguese outfit.
“When Benfica contacted me, it also gave me the opportunity to know that it would be good as it is a big gateway to Europe that will give me the springboard to continue growing in the club [that] is much bigger,” he told Argentinian outlet TNT Sports.
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