Enzo Fernandez has given his clearest indication yet that he will not be joining Chelsea January window with his celebration in front of Benfica’s fans on Tuesday evening.
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Chelsea have made Fernandez their top midfield target after his impressive displays for Argentina during their World Cup triumph last month.
But, Benfica have been angered by Chelsea’s negotiating tactics and claim the Premier League club have offered a lower deal than what was discussed during talks.
Benfica have been adamant that Fernandez will not leave unless his €120m (£106m) release clause is paid, although it’s believed that the midfielder is keen on a move to Stamford Bridge.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 10, 2023
Fernandez scored Benfica’s second goal in their 2-0 victory over Varzim on Tuesday which secured their place in the quarter final of the Portuguese Cup.
And during his celebrations in front of Benfica’s supporters, the 21-year-old tapped the club’s badge, pointed to himself and then to the floor, which many Benfica fans have taken as a sign that he is staying at the club.
When asked about Fernandez after the match, Benfica’s manager Roger Schmidt told RTP3: ‘I never had any doubts about his attitude or his personality. He’s a great person, he’s at Benfica and he loves playing for Benfica.’
When asked if he expects him to stay at Benfica for the rest of the campaign, Schmidt replied: ‘I hope so.’
The celebration comes after reports last week claimed that Benfica’s president, Rui Costa, had warned Fernandez about Chelsea move this month and advised the player that he should wait to see which other clubs emerge at the end of the campaign.
Meanwhile, Fernandez has been disciplined by Benfica after he returned to Argentina without permission for New Year celebrations.
‘Enzo is a good guy and an extraordinary player, we want him to stay, the situation is not easy, he played in the World Cup, won the World Cup, had proposals, there is a lot of money at stake,’ Schmidt said last week.
‘He is a young man player, this is confusing, we all understand this. But he is an excellent person.
‘He was not authorised to go to Argentina, it is not acceptable, there will be consequences, I will not say which ones.
‘We do not want to sell him, neither I nor the president. we know that there is a release clause, if he wants to leave and someone violates the clause, maybe we lose the player.
‘There is a club that wants him, they tried to attract him, but they know that they can only have him if they pay the clause. It’s disrespectful to all of us, to Benfica, they’re driving the player crazy, they pretend they want to pay the clause and then they want to negotiate.’