Benfica still have no intention of selling Enzo Fernandez this month despite Chelsea looking to revive their interest in the midfielder with a late bid, according to reports.
The Blues have already made six signings in January, notably bringing in players like Mykhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk, Benoit Badiashile from Monaco and Joao Felix on loan from La Liga giants Atletico Madrid.
But one area of the team which has not been reinforced is the midfield and Chelsea remain eager to try and improve their options in the centre of the pitch before the transfer window shuts.
They pushed hard to lure World Cup winner Fernandez to Stamford Bridge at the start of the month only for the deal to fall apart.
But, after unsuccessfully exploring other options, such as Brighton’s Moses Caicedo and even Tottenham’s Yves Bissouma, Chelsea are now believed to be readying a fresh attempt to land Fernandez.
But, Portuguese newspaper Record claim that Benfica will once again resist any approach for the player and he will only leave the club if his €120m (£105m) release clause is paid in full.
Chelsea have previously baulked at that figure and had hoped to reach a compromise with Benfica, with their new attempt thought to be in the region of €100m (£88m) plus several players.
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The London club had offered players to Benfica previously to try and sweeten the deal, though this time the players offered have changed with David Fofana no longer an option after the club signed Casper Tengstedt.
But Benfica’s answer will still be the same, with club president Rui Costa ready to tell Chelsea, not for the first time – that they must pay the midfielder’s release clause.
The issue with that from Chelsea’s point of view is that the money would have to be deposited in full immediately, which they cannot do.
According to Record, Chelsea have remained in contact with Fernandez’s agent and the midfielder is ready to demand a €2m loyalty bonus that he believes he is entitled to if Benfica blocks a move.
Speaking last week, Benfica head coach Roger Schmidt said of the midfielder: ‘The issue with Enzo is closed. There is no issue anymore.
‘So he is our player, he is in a very good condition, he is training well, he is happy here, he is part of the squad and he is a key player. So I think I have already said everything about him.’