Chelsea have finally signed Enzo Fernandez from Benfica for a British-record £106.8m.
The deal for the Argentine midfielder surpasses the £100m Manchester City paid to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa 18 months ago.
The 22-year-old, who only moved to Benfica last summer for around £10m, has signed an eight-and-a-half-year deal at Stamford Bridge to keep him at the club until the summer of 2031.
Chelsea had been in talks to sign the Argentina international throughout January, but Benfica had refused to do business unless the club paid his €120m release clause.
But the Blues were finally able to agree a deal of €121m at 9.15pm on Deadline Day after hours of talks led by Chelsea’s co-owner Behdad Eghbali.
However, Italian football journalist – Fabrizio Romano has praised the London club for doing “incredible” work to finally sign the midfielder from Benfica.
Writing in his exclusive CaughtOffside column on Substack, Romano explained that it took the club 20 consecutive hours of negotiations before making a breakthrough on the deal.
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Fernandez has established himself as one of the best young players in world football in recent times, showing superb form for Benfica and also instrumental for Argentina as they won the 2022 World Cup.
The 22-year-old looks ideal for what Chelsea needs right now, with Jorginho having just left to join Arsenal, while N’Golo Kante is nearing the end of his contract.
Benfica were not easy to negotiate with, but Romano praised the work of Chelsea to keep on pushing and finally reach an agreement with the Portuguese side for the player’s signature.
“Chelsea did an incredible work to get Enzo Fernandez deal signed,” Romano said.
“It took 20 consecutive hours of negotiations, Enzo was a big ally of Chelsea into this deal and this is how they convinced Benfica to sell.
“The price is €121m paid in 6 instalments, contract until 2031 – a very big deal.”
The Blues will pay a first instalment of £30million with the rest of the fee paid in five more instalments.
According to Portuguese broadcaster SIC, Fernandez will fly to the UK on Wednesday, with a private jet scheduled to leave Lisbon airport at 10.20am.