Chelsea have signed midfielder Enzo Fernandez from Benfica for a British-record £106.8m.
The deal for the Argentine surpasses the £100m Manchester City paid for Jack Grealish from Aston Villa 18 months ago.
The 22-year-old, who only joined Benfica last summer for around £10m, has signed an eight-and-a-half-year deal at Stamford Bridge to keep him at the club until the summer of 2031.
The Premier League’s record buys
- Enzo Fernandez – Benfica to Chelsea, January 2023 – £106.8m
- Jack Grealish – Aston Villa to Manchester City, summer 2021 – £100m
- Romelu Lukaku – Inter Milan to Chelsea, summer 2021 – £97.5m
- Romelu Lukaku – Everton to Manchester United, summer 2017 – £90m
- Paul Pogba – Juventus to Manchester United, summer 2016 – £89m
- Mykhailo Mudryk – Shakhtar Donetsk to Chelsea, January 2022 – £88.5m
Chelsea had been in talks to sign the World Cup winner throughout January, but Benfica had refused to do business unless the Blues paid his €120m release clause.
But Chelsea agreed a deal of €121m at 9.15pm on Deadline Day after 12 hours of talks led by Chelsea’s co-owner Behdad Eghbali from London.
The Blues will pay a first instalment of £30m with the rest of the fee paid in five further instalments.
Fernandez was left out of Benfica’s squad for their game against Arouca on Tuesday night, with the 22-year-old undergoing a medical in Portugal ahead of his switch to Stamford Bridge.
According to Portuguese broadcaster SIC, Fernandez will fly to the UK on Wednesday morning, with a private jet scheduled to leave Lisbon airport at 10.20am.
Fernandez will help to replace Jorginho, who joined Chelsea’s London rivals Arsenal on Deadline Day in a £12m deal.
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Sky Sports’ Ron Walker:
“Fernandez’s attributes make it clear how he can help. Still only halfway through his first season with Benfica, he has racked up the second-most assists in the Primeira Liga, and created 30 chances for his team-mates – some of them particularly eye-catching, and a stunning pinpoint set-up for Goncalo Ramos against Sporting earlier this month perhaps the pick of the bunch.
“It is that kind of playmaking potential which had Manchester City and Real Madrid interested in bringing him in from boyhood side River Plate last summer before he settled on a move to Lisbon.
“No one in the Portuguese top flight has made more passes than the Argentine, and if he does prove to replace Jorginho at Stamford Bridge, he will also provide something extra in the final third where he tops the charts for passes too.
“Should Chelsea want to play with a midfield two, he would offer a better option there too. Fernandez has already taken responsibility without the ball at Benfica, slotting into an anchorman role regularly as required. He has been one of the league’s top tacklers, and only 10 players across the division have won the ball back more in the middle third despite his considerable output further up the pitch.”
How much did Chelsea spend in January?
Following the arrival of Fernandez, Chelsea spent £323.3m in January. Here are the deals the Blues made:
- Benoit Badiashile - Monaco, £35m
- David Datro Fofana - Molde, undisclosed (reported £10m deal)
- Andrey Santos - Vasco da Gama, undisclosed (reported £18m deal)
- Joao Felix - Atletico Madrid, £9.7m loan
- Mykhailo Mudryk - Shakhtar Donetsk, £88.5m
- Noni Madueke - PSV Eindhoven, £29m
- Malo Gusto – Lyon, £26.3m
- Enzo Fernandez - Benfica, £106.8m
Chelsea have splashed over £323m in this January transfer window after completing a British record deal for Benfica’s Enzo Fernandez – so how are they able to spend such huge sums and stay within Financial Fair Play rules?
The UEFA FFP regulations are designed to limit excessive spending and there are also Premier League rules which put a cap on the losses a club can suffer over a three-year period. Large fines or points deductions can be dished out as punishment to clubs which don’t adhere to the rules.
But with the Blues agreeing a £106.8m transfer for Fernandez, new Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly will have overseen a spend £600m since the takeover in May 2022 – and they appear to have stayed within the guidelines.
Football finance expert Kieran Maguire spoke to Sky Sports News to explain.