Chelsea are closing in on the signing of Benfica and Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez, according to Spanish journalist Matteo Moretto.
Fernandez was named Young Player of the Tournament as Argentina won the World Cup in Qatar this winter.
He enjoyed a terrific tournament, helping his nation beat France on penalties in the final.
The 21-year-old has been strongly linked with a move to Liverpool, with Real Madrid also interested.
However, it then emerged that Manchester United were winning the race following the player’s exploits at the World Cup.
And now Chelsea are the frontrunners, according to multiple reports, with Todd Boehly getting his checkbook at the ready after a hefty spending spree last summer.
Benfica boss Roger Schmidt conceded that Fernandez has possibly played his final game for the Portuguese giants, but was high in praise of the young midfielder, who was signed from River Plate in July.
They only paid €12million and stand to make a huge profit six months later. River Plate would make a lot of money from Fernandez’s potential sale having included a 25% sell-on clause in his summer transfer.
Fernandez has a €120m release clause in his contract, however, Chelsea do not want to trigger that as it will have to be paid up front.
This is according to Relevo correspondent Matteo Moretto, who says the Blues will pay a fixed price and add-ons, totaling €130m (£115m).
Benfica hope that a deal can be agreed ‘in the first week of January’ after ‘opening the door’ to sell the World Cup winner.
Moretto claims that Chelsea are ‘one step away’ from finalising the signing after ‘intensifying’ talks over the last few hours and an agreement is close.
Fernandez has already agreed to join the Stamford Bridge club, meaning Liverpool will miss out on one of their top targets. Their pursuit of Jude Bellingham just got a lot more serious…
Boehly was able to close the deal with little fuss due to his strong relationship with the midfielder’s agent, Jorge Mendes.
It is said that Manchester United ‘were the side most interested’ in signing Fernandez, but ‘fell behind’ after failing to lodge a bid.
Fernandez did not start in Argentina’s World Cup opener against Saudi Arabia and also came off the bench on matchday two, netting a wonderful goal against Mexico.
After that, he was a mainstay in Lionel Scaloni’s starting XI as Argentina won the whole thing.
He played every single minute in the knockout stage, helping his side overcome Australia, the Netherlands, 2018 finalists Croatia, and holders France.
Fernandez has made 25 appearances across all competitions for Benfica in 2022-23.
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