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Why Chelsea may need to adapt Enzo Fernandez transfer plan with Benfica due to play on Deadline Day




The January transfer deadline is looming and Chelsea are yet to make any progress on their pursuit of Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez.

It’s been a month-long saga of Chelsea wanting to bring the 22-year-old to Stamford Bridge in January, however no advancements have been made during negotiations between the clubs.

Benfica have continued to refer to Fernandez’s €120 million release clause, which Chelsea are currently reluctant to trigger, otherwise they will refuse to let the Argentina international leave before the window closes.

Talks were held at the beginning of the month but Chelsea ended up being on the receiving end of a public slamming from Benfica boss Roger Schmidt, who slammed the Blues for being disrespectful.

After being convinced to move, Fernandez U-turned and switched his focus back to Benfica having been punished for disciplinary reasons.

But Chelsea haven’t given up and resumed talks this week ahead of Tuesday’s 11pm (UK) deadline, with the Todd BoehlyClearlake Capital ownership looking to add to the already seven signings made in January. Malo Gusto was acquired from Lyon for a deal worth £30 million including add-ons, however he returns to the Ligue 1 side for the remainder of the season.

Reports from Record Portugal have stated Benfica are bracing themselves for a new Chelsea bid for Fernandez. It’s claimed a cash offer of €100 million plus some players is set to be lodged.

Benfica are trying to increase the midfielder’s release clause to €150 million to fend off Chelsea’s interest until the summer, but it remains unclear if Graham Potter’s side will swoop in during the final days to get a deal over the line.

However, Chelsea need to keep in mind that Benfica have a Primeira Liga match on Deadline Day, getting underway at 9.15pm away to Arouca, who are 159 miles away from Benfica’s stadium.

This will mean the Portuguese side will likely start to travel either on Monday night or Tuesday ahead of the game, and they will want minimal disruption over Fernandez’s situation.

Any Chelsea effort to trigger his clause late on if Fernandez is warming up and on the pitch at the Estádio Municipal Arouca on Tuesday will likely be too late to get a transfer over the line in time.

Progress is going to have to be made on Monday to finalise plans for the midfielder to travel to London on Tuesday at the latest if they want to end their January window with eight signings, leaving the biggest deal until last.

Earlier this week, boss Roger Schmidt was confident Fernandez would remain, but it is in Chelsea’s hands over whether they decide to trigger his release clause, something they’ve been reluctant to do so far.

“Yes, of course (I’m confident Enzo stays),” responded Schmidt during his press conference on Wednesday.

“I think when you see Enzo playing at the moment for Benfica, I see a player who is on his top level, who is very happy to play for the club and I think there is nothing else in the mindset of the player.

“So, I don’t expect that we lose any of our players who are playing a lot and who are in the starting XI. That’s why I see very focused players and that’s why I expect that he stays.”