Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Enzo Fernandez misses Benfica match after Chelsea pursuit

SoccerNews in English Premier League 6 Jan 2023

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Enzo Fernandez has been left out of Benfica’s matchday squad for Friday’s Primeira Liga match with Portimonense after Roger Schmidt’s criticism of suitors Chelsea.

Fernandez’s excellent World Cup displays for Argentina in Qatar have attracted interest from a range of top clubs, with Chelsea thought to be close to his signing at one stage this week.

But the Blues’ reported refusal to meet the midfielder’s release clause provided a stumbling block, which is said to be a huge £106million (€120m).

However, the transfer, which would have made Fernandez a record signing for a Premier League club, reportedly hit a stumbling block on Wednesday after the Blues tried to negotiate a lower fee.

Benfica head coach Schmidt said Chelsea’s approach showed “a lack of respect” to his club, suggesting the Premier League side were trying to “drive the player crazy”.

Fernandez had already missed numerous Benfica training sessions having returned to Argentina without the club’s permission, but Schmidt has insisted they do not wish to sell the 21-year-old.

On Friday, Schmidt chose to leave Fernandez out of the team for an important fixture at home to eighth-placed Portimonense.

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