Chelsea’s attempt to sign Benfica and Argentine youngster Enzo Fernandez has suffered a big setback.
After an outstanding 2022 World Cup performance, Enzo Fernandez emerged into the spotlights and was on the transfer radar of top European clubs.
Chelsea were the frontrunner to sign the Argentine youngster and were keen on completing a deal with Benfica as soon as possible.
However, the Blues could not match their interest with the £106million release clause demanded by Benfica to wrap up the deal.
The major bond of contention was Chelsea’s payment plan. Despite indicating interest, Chelsea wanted to pay the release clause of Enzo Fernandez in instalment.
They were ready to split the payment into three parts that will even surpass the release clause by £6million.
On the other hand, Benfica wanted full payment of the release clause if Chelsea will be considered for the deal, and later conceded to payment in instalment, but insist a lump sum must be paid upfront.
Meanwhile, the Benfica board was divided on whether to sell the player or not. In all, the club did not want to sell Enzo Fernandez.
Also, Enzo Fernandez was already beginning to push for an exit to the Premier League after Chelsea indicated an interest in signing the World Cup winner.
On the eve of the festive period, Enzo Fernandez defied Benfica and traveled to Argentina to spend time with his family.
His move angered Benfica manager Roger Schmidt and fans, who asked the club to part ways with the youngster.
Enzo Fernandez’s exit antics to has spurned up a contrary result. Chelsea’s pursuit of the youngster has now suffered an immense setback.
The Portuguese outfit have been angered by Chelsea’s latest bid for Enzo Fernandez.
They were negotiating over his £105m buyout clause but saw their offer of cash plus players rejected by Benfica, who want the cash upfront.
Manager Roger Schmidt described the offer as “disrespectful”.
Despite missing the 21-year-old in a recent victory over Portimonense, Schmidt has revealed that the deal is now off the table.
He said: “The Enzo story is closed, there’s nothing left. He’s our player.
“He’s in a good position, Enzo is happy, training well, he’s part of the team.
“He’s a key player. That’s all.”
The position of Roger Schmidt is no different from Benfica’s stance on the player. The club have insisted Fernandez is not for sale despite interest from the Blues and other Premier League clubs.
However, as the January transfer window opens, speculation over Fernandez’s future looks likely to continue.
Liverpool and Newcastle United are also interested in the youngster but there are reports, Roger Schmidt will call Enzo Fernandez to action in the Taca de Portugal on Tuesday when Benfica faces Varzim.
Enzo Fernandez, who won the Young Player Award of the 2022 World Cup, has been prolific for Benfica in the Primeira and Champions League campaign.
He started all matches for Argentina in the 2022 World Cup and was instrumental in the team’s subsequent World Cup victory.