Chelsea in talks with Enzo Fernandez, with big deal u-turn: report

Chelsea target Enzo Fernandez during the Primeira Liga match between Benfica and Sporting CP on 15 January, 2023 at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, Portugal
(Image credit: Valter Gouveia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Chelsea are reportedly preparing to re-enter negotiations over a move for Benfica and Argentina star Enzo Fernandez, after talks broke down earlier this month.

The Blues failed in their previous bid to sign the World Cup-winning playmaker, with Benfica rejecting their attempt to pay less than his release clause.

According to the Guardian (opens in new tab), that release clause is set at £106m – and Chelsea intend to try again to bring Fernandez to Stamford Bridge.

Enzo Fernandez of Argentina holds the trophy for Best Young Player after Argentina beat France in the final of the FIFA World Cup 2022 on 18 December, 2022 at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar.

Fernandez was named Best Young Player at the 2022 World Cup (Image credit: Marvin Ibo Guengoer – GES Sportfoto/Getty Images)

It's already been a busy January transfer window for the Blues, who have made six signings at a combined cost of well over £200m – including a loan fee worth almost £10m for Joao Felix.

The new permanent arrivals include young France defender Benoit Badiashile and Ukraine attacking sensation Mykhailo Mudryk – who have joined on contracts running to 2029 and 2030 respectively. Such unusually long deals have prompted accusations that Chelsea are trying to get around the Premier League's Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.

On Saturday, Forbes (opens in new tab) reported that Chelsea's January spending so far had exceeded that of the 78 clubs in La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 combined – but Fernandez appears to remain a serious target.

That's despite the Evening Standard (opens in new tab) suggesting that the Blues could run into issues as they would have to pay Fernandez's buyout clause up front – assuming they met it, which it seems Benfica would insist upon.

Enzo Fernandez of Benfica during the Primeira Liga match between Vitoria Guimaraes and Benfica on 1 October, 2022 at the Estadio Dom Afonso Henriques in Guimaraes, Portugal

Fernandez only joined Benfica from River Plate last June (Image credit: Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

After their initial failed approach to sign Fernandez, Chelsea were accused by Benfica boss Roger Schmidt of unsettling Primeira Liga leaders' main man.

But it doesn't sound like that will stop the Blues from coming back for more – and this saga could still take a few more twists and turns before the window slams shut on 31 January.

More Chelsea stories

Chelsea are among a number of clubs linked with a move for Brighton's Argentine World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister, but the midfielder says he is in no haste to leave the Seagulls.

The Blues have been dealt a blow in their pursuit of Enzo Fernandez, with Benfica refusing to budge on their asking price.

Meanwhile, Celtic's Josip Juranovic and Inter Milan's Denzel Dumfries are said to have been identified as potential right-back targets, with Reece James out injured.

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Tom Hancock started freelancing for FourFourTwo in April 2019 and has also written for The Analyst and When Saturday Comes, among others. He supports Wycombe Wanderers and has a soft spot for Wealdstone. A self-confessed statto, he has been known to watch football with a spreadsheet (or several) open...