The Argentine World Cup winner made the switch to Stamford Bridge for an eye-watering British record fee worth £107m on deadline day. Both sides had been locked deep in talks since the World Cup, with Chelsea impressed by the 22-year-old’s performances in Qatar.

The report claims that Chelsea’s interest took Benfica president Rui Costa to London, where discussions were held on January 3 in a meeting where Chelsea owner Todd Boehly and Portuguese super agent Jorge Mendes were both present.

Portuguese publication Record have revealed the heavy tension there was between the two camps when they met to speak about Fernandez, and how Benfica had pushed for Mateo Kovacic to be included in a swap deal. It’s also said that Fernandez eager to move to the Premier League side threatened to publish a video ripping into Benfica’s management. 

That’s when the clubs came to heads, with reports that chiefs of both sides were close to physical confrontation in a bitter dispute. Costa left the room in fury after Chelsea’s dropped their original proposal of £107m to £80m with players to be offered in return.

Several were proposed included Jorginho – who ended up going to Arsenal for £12m – though Benfica requested Kovacic. The 28-year-old Croatian was put on the table though his salary – around £5m-per-year – made that scenario impossible.   

Costa is said to have given the green light to the move, while Benfica’s 3-0 victory against Arouca on deadline day was in progress. Fernandez, worried that the move wouldn’t go through, threatened to record a video to post on social media with accusations against Benfica’s structure.  

It was then where Chelsea returned with a £107m move to Benfica which was completed on deadline day. Though they could have signed him at the end of the season for £89m according to Costa. 

Fernandez is believed to have wanted a move since the World Cup, and defied his club by flying back to Argentina to celebrate the New Year as he pushed for a move to England.

Benfica manager Roger Schmidt had claimed no deal would take place in mid-January, but Chelsea came back in for the midfielder after giving up in their pursuit of Brighton’s Moises Caicedo and deciding they would pay Fernandez’s full release clause.

Costa added: ‘During deadline day we found an agreement to sell Enzo to Chelsea in the summer but he didn’t want to stay. ‘From the moment Enzo realised [Chelsea would pay] the value of the clause it was unrelenting. We tried to insist, but the player did not show any openness to continuing at Benfica.

Costa explained how unwilling he was to keep an unmotivated player at Benfica, and showed little remorse for Fernandez’ exit. ‘I did my best, I’m sad, but I’m not going to cry for a player who didn’t want to stay. When Chelsea arrived, it was really impossible to change his mind.’

‘I proposed to Chelsea that he stay until the summer for a lower value, but the player did not want to continue at Benfica and this is when everything changed.’ Fernandez, who travelled to London on Wednesday, left a message of thanks to the players, coach and management on social media in which he said: ‘I will carry them forever in my heart.’

He was named best young player as Argentina won the World Cup in Qatar last year, and could help revive a flagging Chelsea season that has seen them slump to 10th in the league. ‘Myself and my family are really happy to be here in London and to be able to enjoy the city. I think it’s a really beautiful city, so we will enjoy it and have a good time.

Speaking to the club website after arriving, Fernandez said: ‘Chelsea is a big club, it’s a club that is always fighting for trophies and has won the Champions League in recent years. Together, we will look to achieve everything the club wants and take it to the next level.


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