Roger Schmidt, the manager of Benfica, maintains that there is still no agreement between his team and Chelsea over Enzo Fernandez, but he does acknowledge that the club is currently examining “options” if he does decide to move to Stamford Bridge.
Meetings between the two clubs are taking place today as Chelsea redoubles its efforts to sign the 21-year-old midfielder before Tuesday’s transfer deadline.
The Premier League team is willing to pay the international player’s £106 million release clause in installments. However, Benfica has been insistent that he won’t depart until that clause is fully paid upfront.
Chelsea is reportedly getting more confident that they will reach a deal that will push their record January expenditure above the £260 million level.
As the last hours of the mid-season window approach, Benfica manager Schmidt, who earlier this month criticized the Blues for their “disrespectful” approach to the player, says that the club would uphold its demands for the player.
However, he acknowledged that Benfica must now be ready for the player leaving during a press conference on Monday.
Schmidt responded, “We have to be prepared for everything in the background especially after the transfer window, especially when you are not in the driver’s seat,” when asked if he had a backup plan should Chelsea pay the clause.
“We are aware that Enzo is having a problem. Since there is a release clause, we cannot prevent him from leaving if the paying club does so. We need to be organized and come up with solutions.
However, there is currently no deal; he is simply our player. We’ll have to wait and see what happens over the next two days, but I’ll be glad when the transfer window shuts so we can concentrate on the team members and have a successful season.
In response to Chelsea’s initial interest, Fernandez disobeyed his club by skipping workouts and traveling back to Argentina for New Year’s, activities for which he was punished by his employers.
In the days that followed, Schmidt claimed Chelsea was “trying to pretend” it could pay the release clause while driving Fernandez “crazy.”
The Benfica manager responded, “I previously mentioned this a few times about this topic,” when asked if Fernandez has once again had his head turned by the Blues. Enzo is our player, enjoys our full support, and is both a brilliant player and a fantastic human being.
“I’ve covered everything there is to say about this subject. You may always anticipate that something will happen as long as the transfer window is open. So, the next two days will be watched to see what occurs.
But for the past few weeks, my perspective has remained the same. At the start of January, there were talks, and he was able to concentrate once more on Benfica. I believe that the best games he played for Benfica demonstrated his character and skill.
“But we are aware of the business of football.” In these news conferences, I’m always upfront and honest. But that is the circumstance.