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Revived Chelsea hopes for outstanding midfield signing get stern reality check as sellers refuse to negotiate

Teamtalk logo Teamtalk 24/01/2023 Samuel Bannister
Enzo Fernandez, Frenkie De Jong, Argentina, Netherlands, December 2022 © PA Images Enzo Fernandez, Frenkie De Jong, Argentina, Netherlands, December 2022

Chelsea have been blocked from negotiating with Benfica for the transfer of Enzo Fernandez despite recently raising their hopes of bringing him in, according to reports.

Fernandez has become a top target for Chelsea after rising to prominence in 2022. First, he earned a transfer to Europe by leaving River Plate for Benfica. Then, he capped off the year by winning the World Cup with Argentina.

Fernandez was also the recipient of the tournament’s Young Player Award. It was an acknowledgement of the high potential he is already fulfilling.

Chelsea have been particularly keen on Fernandez in recent weeks. They want to evolve their midfield, bearing in mind that the likes of N’Golo Kante and Jorginho are no longer solutions for the long term.

Their attempts to lure Fernandez to Stamford Bridge earlier this month did not pay off. Benfica accused them of being disrespectful, causing the deal to collapse.

Indeed, the Portuguese side have been insisting all along that they would only be able to accept an offer the size of Fernandez’s release clause, which stands at €120million (£106m).

Chelsea have been hoping to sign the South American by other means. But their efforts appeared to be in vain – until a twist recently suggested they were going to try their luck again late in the January transfer window.

The Guardian have been reporting that Chelsea are going to make a new attempt to sign Fernandez.

He could become their seventh signing of the January transfer window, following the arrivals of Benoit Badiashile, David Datro Fofana, Andrey Santos, Joao Felix, Mykhaylo Mudryk and Noni Madueke.

Chelsea have certainly been establishing their force in the transfer market. The hope is that their new recruits can not only help them climb the Premier League table this season – they are currently in a disappointing 10th place after 20 matches – but strengthen them for long-term success.

Enzo Fernandez denied Chelsea transfer again

However, any optimism that Fernandez will be the next to follow suit has once again been short-lived.

According to Argentine journalist Cesar Luis Merlo, Benfica “will not negotiate” with Chelsea. Obviously, they cannot stand in Fernandez’s way if the Blues meet the £106m exit clause. But otherwise, they can reject any attempt made by the Blues.

As things stand, according to Merlo, there has been “no formal offer” from Chelsea. Hence, if they want to make one, they would be wasting their time by putting anything less than €120m on the table.

In this case, Chelsea might have to wait until the summer at the earliest to have a more realistic chance of signing the 22-year-old.

He has only played 28 times for Benfica so far, scoring four goals and assisting seven more. His contract there will last until 2027, so they are under no immediate pressure to sell him.

There could be the temptation of turning a quick profit. But Benfica are focusing on their on-field objectives for the time being.

Chelsea will have to be patient, or at least more considered, in their approach towards signing him. As things stand, it has been one setback after another when it comes to Fernandez.

Chelsea have managed to get their way in relation to several other players in recent months. They need to do a substantial amount of work in order for that to be the case with Fernandez eventually.

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