Soccer-Chelsea announce record signing of Benfica’s Fernandez | The Mighty 790 KFGO
By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) – Premier League side Chelsea announced the signing of Enzo Fernandez from Benfica on Wednesday after a day of complex negotiations between the clubs as the Argentine midfielder joined for a British record 106, 8 million pounds ($131.46 million).
As the deadline neared its end, it looked like a deal might not be reached, but a statement from Benfica confirmed it was agreed shortly before 23:00 GMT on Tuesday.
Chelsea announced the signing at 10:00 GMT on Wednesday via a video on Twitter, which showed a clip of a ticking clock, referring to the deadline.
Benfica’s statement said Chelsea would pay the contract release fee for the 22-year-old, who signed an eight-and-a-half-year contract with the London club. This brings Chelsea’s January transfer spend to over £300m.
According to the media, Chelsea will pay the fee in installments.
“Sport Lisboa e Benfica – Futebol, SAD informs that it has reached an agreement with Chelsea FC for the sale of all the rights of player Enzo Fernandez, for an amount of 121,000,000 euros”, reads a press release from Benfica.
Benfica signed Fernandez in July 2022 from River Plate, who has a 25% sell clause. He has registered four goals and seven assists in 29 games in all competitions for Benfica this season.
The £106.8m fee dwarfs the £100m Manchester City paid Aston Villa for England midfielder Jack Grealish in 2021.
Fernandez was instrumental in Argentina’s World Cup winning campaign in Qatar, entering the starting line-up and playing in every game, scoring one of the goals in a vital win over Mexico in the group stage .
He capped off the tournament by winning the Young Player Award.
Benfica boss Roger Schmidt was unwilling to see Fernandez leave but said his hands would be tied if a club paid the player’s release clause.
Fernandez is Chelsea’s eighth signing in the mid-season transfer window after the London club signed Mykhailo Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke, Andrey Santos, David Fofana and Malo Gusto while Joao Felix arrived on loan from the club. ‘Atletico Madrid. All are 23 or younger.
On Tuesday, Chelsea sold experienced midfielder Jorginho to Premier League leaders Arsenal for £12million. However, Paris St Germain’s attempt to sign Moroccan Hakim Ziyech on loan failed.
Fernandez’s transfer brings Chelsea’s total spending on players since last May’s takeover by an investment group led by American Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital to around £600m as they attempt to rebuild their team.
Chelsea are 10th in the Premier League, 10 points from a place in the top four. They then host local rivals Fulham on Friday.
($1 = 0.8124 pounds)
(Reporting by Martyn Herman and Manasi Pathak; Editing by Toby Davis/Peter Rutherford and Christian Radnedge)