Chelsea have opened talks with Benfica over a potential deal for Argentina World Cup winner Enzo Fernández, Guardian Sport reports.
Fernández, who was voted the best young player of the tournament, has emerged as Chelsea’s top target as they attempt to bolster their midfield in January.
It is understood the Blues are now in direct negotiations with Benfica over a fee for the 21-year-old who moved to Portugal from River Plate in June for an initial €10m.
Fernández’s contract expires in 2027 and has a release clause of €120m, with Benfica thought to only be willing to sell for the full amount.
However, Chelsea are hopeful of negotiating by offering a significant fee upfront to secure his services.
Benfica president Rui Costa was quoted this week as saying Fernández would be able to leave the club in January if his release clause was met but the Portuguese club released a statement on Thursday to deny such claims.
“SL Benfica clarifies that at no time did the President of the Club, Rui Costa, utter the words that are being disseminated in Italy by DAZN,” read the statement. “Sport Lisboa e Benfica reiterates its intention to count on the player Enzo Fernández until the end of the season.”
Having already agreed a deal to sign the striker David Datro Fofana from the Norwegian side Molde, Chelsea are close to making Badiashile their second signing of the window.
Personal terms have already been agreed with the 21-year-old who made his senior international debut in September but missed out on France’s World Cup squad. It is expected that he will cost €35m, with bonuses still under negotiation.