Nottingham Forest v Chelsea: Pictures
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Benfica manager Roger Schmidt has seemingly blasted Chelsea for their attempts to sign Enzo Fernandez in the January transfer window. Schmidt has slammed the Blues for their strategy after the Argentina midfielder was left unsettled by the failed approach.
Chelsea have reportedly had three meetings with Benfica this month to try and lure Fernandez to Stamford Bridge.
But the Portuguese giants quickly made it clear that the 21-year-old wouldn’t be going anywhere unless any suitors triggered his £106million release clause.
Rife reports earlier this week claimed Chelsea were willing to offer £112m to persuade Benfica to part ways with their most prized asset, but in instalments to adhere to FFP rules.
However, Fabrizio Romano later reported that the Blues only offered £75m, significantly less than the demands that would’ve made Fernandez the most expensive Premier League player in history.
And Schmidt has backed up that revelation by revealing an interested party were ‘disrespectful’ by offering lower than the release clause, despite indicating an intention to pay the full amount.
He said: “We don’t want to sell Enzo [Fernandez]. There’s a club that wants him [and] tempted him, but they know the only way is [by paying the] £106m (€120m) clause.
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“They’re disrespectful. They’re leaving the player crazy. They acted like they wanted to pay clause… then wanted to negotiate [a cheaper fee].”
The Benfica boss also heaped praise on Fernandez, stressing his desire for the World Cup’s Best Young Player to remain in Lisbon beyond January.
“Enzo is a good guy and an extraordinary player. We want him to stay,” Schmidt added.
“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.”
Fernandez’s impressive exploits in Argentina’s triumph in Qatar saw his stock soar just months after joining Benfica from River Plate in a deal worth around £14m.
He will likely be at the forefront of blockbuster transfer speculation once again if he remains in Portugal until the summer, with Liverpool and Manchester United also known admirers.
The clubs that qualify for next season’s Champions League are bound to have an advantage in the race to secure Fernandez’s services, which could spell bad news for Chelsea.
Graham Potter’s side are 10 points outside the top four after 16 games played, so it could be a case of the one that got away if the Londoners can’t strike a deal before the January deadline.
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