Chelsea have been accused by Benfica’s manager, Roger Schmidt, of “disrespectful” behaviour in their pursuit of Enzo Fernández. Schmidt said the Premier League club had unsettled the Argentina midfielder and changed the basis of discussions.
Chelsea, who on Thursday confirmed the signing of the defender Benoît Badiashile from Monaco for €38m (£33.6m), have made Fernández a priority target. There have been days of talks and Fernández has told Benfica he does not want to play for them again but Schmidt insisted a deal was possible only if Chelsea paid the World Cup winner’s release clause, understood to be €120m.
“There’s a club who want our player,” Schmidt said. “They know we don’t want to sell the player. They try to get the player on their side and they know that they only can get this player when they pay the clause. So it’s a very clear situation. What the club is doing who want to buy Enzo is disrespectful against all of us – against Benfica – and I cannot accept what they are doing.
“So to make the player crazy and then to pretend they can pay the clause and later they want to negotiate, I think it’s not what I understand about a good relationship between clubs who maybe want to discuss about the player.”
Fernández has angered Benfica by returning to Argentina without their permission as he pushes for the move. Benfica would like to keep the 21-year-old until the summer and Chelsea maintain they do not want to overpay and will walk away if a deal cannot be agreed.
Lavish spending under the co-owner Todd Boehly continued with Badiashile signing on a seven-and-a-half-year deal. He is the third centre-half bought since the end of last season, after Kalidou Koulibaly and the injured Wesley Fofana.
Badiashile is Chelsea’s second January acquisition, after the striker David Datro Fofana. The club are also interested in the Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhailo Mudryk but the Ukrainian’s preference is to join Arsenal.