Lionel Messi's verdict on Enzo Fernandez as Chelsea make plan for record-breaking transfer


Chelsea have told Benfica they are willing to smash their transfer record to complete the signing of midfielder Enzo Fernandez, has been told. The 21-year-old was one of the standout performers for Argentina in their glorious World Cup-winning campaign recently and he has attracted attention from all around Europe because of his performances.

Representatives from Chelsea have informed Benfica they are willing to match his £105million release clause next month. Such a fee would break the £97.5m the Blues paid Inter Milan for Romelu Lukaku over a year ago. There is set to be stern competition for Fernandez, however, with the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Newcastle United all said to be battling it out for the Argentine's signature.

Fernandez is understood to be settled at Benfica and is not pushing for a move away at the time of writing. He recently addressed his future , insisting he was "focused" on playing for Benfica.

"I don't know anything about that," Fernandez said. "It's up to my agent, I don't want to get involved. "I'm focused on Benfica, in a few days we have an important game. I have a flight at night to play in the game on Friday."

Fernandez was a star for Argentina at the 2022 World Cup, and while many knew his name going into the tournament – they definitely did prior to the South American country lifting the infamous trophy in Qatar. He was alongside the great Lionel Messi in the competition, as he helped the 35- year-old lift his first World Cup trophy in front of the millions watching around the world.

Messi, who has played with countless world-class players over his illustrious 18-year professional career in football, is a big admirer of the young Fernandez. Speaking recently , Messi was asked about the midfielder and described him as "spectacular".

"I'm not surprised by Enzo," Messi said. "I know him and I see him train every day. He deserves it because he's a spectacular player."

The centre of midfield is an area Chelsea are prioritising in the months ahead. There is expected to be movement in January, but the summer will also be key in overhauling the squad's midfield options.

 Declan Rice remains the number one target for Chelsea but any move for the West Ham United midfielder would have to wait until the summer. As well as this, understands the Blues remain keen on Edson Alvarez from Ajax after missing out on the Mexican with a rejected £43m offer over the summer transfer window.

Sources close to the player have told Alvarez is keen on making the switch to Chelsea should the two clubs agree on a fee this time. Brazilian youngster Andrey Santos is expected to arrive in London in the next few days to put the finishing touches on a move from Vaso da Gama. 

Jorginho and N'Golo Kante both see their contracts at Stamford Bridge expire at the end of the season. The midfield duo are – at the time of writing – no closer to agreeing extensions on their respective deals.

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