Benfica manager Roger Schmidt rules out the possibility of Chelsea-linked midfielder Enzo Fernandez leaving the club in the January transfer window.
Benfica administrator Roger Schmidt closed the door to a potential exit for chelsea– bound midfielder Enzo Fernandez in the January transfer window.
The Argentina international has earned a reputation as one of Europe’s most sought-after young players after being named the best young player at the 2022 World Cup.
Fernandez scored a goal and scored another as Argentina were crowned world champions for the third time in their history, and he has shone for Benfica since joining from River Plate in the summer.
The 21-year-old’s form has reportedly caught Chelsea’s eye, real Madrid and liverpoolthe former of which pushed hard to sign Fernandez at the Winter Market.
Fernandez reportedly agreed personal terms with Graham Potterin the Benfica side, but he remains under contract at Benfica until 2027 and would not be allowed to leave on anything other than his £112million release clause.
While the Blues reportedly showed their willingness to pay the fee, their desire to shell out the amount in installments angered Benfica, and talks subsequently stalled.
Now Benfica boss Schmidt has ruled out the possibility of Fernandez leaving the club during the current window, claiming the South American is ‘happy’ in Lisbon.
“Enzo’s story is over, there is nothing left. He is our player. He is in a good position, Enzo is happy, training well, he is part of the team. He is a player key. That’s all,” the Benfica coach told reporters.
Fernandez has three goals and five assists to show in 25 games for Benfica, although he was left out of the squad for their meeting with Portimonense on Friday after missing training.
Chelsea will therefore be forced to look elsewhere in their search for midfield reinforcements during the winter window, having seen Jorginho and N’Golo Kante enter the last six months of their contract.
Both players are said to be in talks with the Blues over renewals, however, and the 18-year-old Andrei Santos joined Vasco da Gama this month but is expected to be sent out on loan.
Brighton & Hove Albion’s Moises Caicedo has apparently been named as Chelsea’s best alternative option, although Liverpool are also pursuing the Ecuadorian starlet.
Potter has also Denis Zakaria, Conor Gallagher, Mateo Kovacic, Carney Chukwuemeka and Ruben Loftus-Cheek at his disposal, while the attacker David Datro Fofana and defender Benoit Badiashile followed Santos to Stamford Bridge this month.
Chelsea will be aiming to recover from their humiliating FA Cup exit at the hands of Manchester City when they face Fulham in the Premier League West London derby on Thursday.