Chelsea are optimistic they can succeed with their British-record bid to sign Enzo Fernandez before the transfer window shuts on Tuesday night.
Telegraph Sport understands that Chelsea have made an offer of more than £105million to Benfica for Fernandez with co-controlling owner Behdad Egbhali and director of global talent and transfers Paul Winstanley ready to clinch a deal.
Chelsea’s bid more than satisfies the figure in Fernandez’s buy-out clause, but the club have so far offered to stagger it across one large payment and five later payments.
That has left some room for negotiation, with sources indicating Chelsea may be prepared to push towards £115m to persuade Benfica president Rui Costa to sell and get a deal over the line in time for Fernandez to join the club immediately.
Signing Fernandez would not only eclipse Chelsea’s club record transfer, which is currently the £97.5m they paid to re-sign Romelu Lukaku, but also beat the £100m Manchester City paid for Jack Grealish, which set a new British record.
Across the summer and January windows, Chelsea have already spent over £450m and adding Fernandez to their signings would take Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital’s spending past £500m.
— SL Benfica (@SLBenfica) January 21, 2023
It would represent a stunning end to an incredible January transfer window in which they have already signed Mykhailo Mudryk, Joao Felix on loan, Benoit Badiashile and Noni Madueke, plus a host of promising youngsters.
Eghbali and Winstanley flew to Turkey to close the £88m Mudryk deal in person with Shakhtar Donetsk and sources believe Chelsea officials are ready to do the same if need be by travelling to Portugal in the hope of returning with Fernandez.
Chelsea’s move for Fernandez has been backed by head coach Graham Potter, who was hugely impressed by the Argentina international’s performances at the World Cup in Qatar.
Fernandez is known to want a move to Chelsea this month, so convincing the player and agreeing personal terms so late in the transfer window would not be a problem.
Benfica manager Roger Scmidt hit out at Chelsea following their first bid for Fernandez, accusing the London club of unsettling the player and changing the goalposts over their offer.
Tensions between the clubs were said to have eased after Fernandez returned to the Benfica team, but the player is believed to have missed training on Monday in an effort to help force a move to Chelsea through.
Signing Fernandez could pave the way for midfielder Conor Gallagher to leave Chelsea, either on loan or permanently before the transfer window closes.
Everton are believed to have made an approach for Gallagher, but the England international also has interest from Newcastle United, Crystal Palace, where he spent last season on loan, Aston Villa and West Ham United.
Sources close to Gallagher do not expect him to be particularly keen on joining a mid-season relegation scrap at Everton, who sacked Frank Lampard last week.
Chelsea are thought to value Gallagher at around £40 million, but could listen to offers to take the 22-year-old on loan if their Fernandez pursuit is successful.
Additionally Paris Saint-German have showed late interest in signing Hakim Ziyech, who is one of the players for whom Chelsea are willing to entertain offers.
The French club hope to take the winger on loan for the rest of the season.