Chelsea’s transfer saga regarding Benfica’s Enzo Fernandez dominated the early stages of the ongoing January transfer window before the deal hit a damaging bump in the road.
The Premier League giants have been relentless in the surge of transfer activity that has seen Todd Boehly part with a reported £404m since assuming the role as owner last year, and further expenditure is expected before the close of the winter transfer window.
And despite failing in a bid to sign Fernandez earlier this month, Portuguese newspaper Record (via prominent Chelsea writer Simon Phillips) report that the club are preparing a second bout of intense pursuit for his signature, with Benfica demanding that his £105m release clause is paid up front.
Chelsea had indeed made an official bid of €85m (£77m), according to transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, and with Boehly’s affluence on full show thus far, going the extra mile to tie the prodigy down could go a long way.
De Bruyne reborn
When Fernandez graced the stage at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the footballing globe took notice.
Earning the Best Young Player award en route to triumphantly clinching the trophy with Argentina, the 22-year-old is now set for a career laden in silverware after cementing a sturdy foundation, with Sofascore recording his performances for his nation at an impressive 7.11, where he scored a goal and an assist, averaged 1.1 shots and 0.9 key passes per game, completed 88% of his passes and averaged 3.1 tackles each occasion.
Should Chelsea go back in for Fernandez?
It is the comprehensive, all-embracing skill set of the Argentine that has left some of the globe’s most prominent outfits desperate to clinch his services, and at Chelsea, he could blossom into one of the leading deep-lying playmakers across the whole gamut of talent worldwide.
Since signing for Benfica from his homeland, the gem has made 28 appearances, scoring four goals and seven assists – with two contributions coming against Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus in the Champions League.
And as per FBref, the £48.5m-rated “game-changer” – as hailed by Roy Nemer – ranks among the top 4% of midfielders in Men’s ‘Next 8 best’ divisions for rate of assists, the top 3% for shot-creating actions, and the top 1% for progressive passes and attempted passes – illustrating a creative genius that the vast majority of his positional peers can only dream of emulating.
Such ball-playing prowess is reminiscent of Manchester City’s consummate star Kevin De Bruyne, who is one of the best players in any position across world football.
Having made 333 appearances for the Cityzens since arriving from VFL Wolfsburg for £55m in 2015, De Bruyne has scored 89 goals and served 138 assists, a veritable machine of the finest oil, serving as the engine to Pep Guardiola’s free-flowing and menacing outfit.
And with the maestro ranking among the top 1% of midfielders across Europe’s top five leagues for rate of goals, rate of assists, and shot-creating actions, among other metrics, his superlative standing is unequivocal.
And indeed with similarities to Benfica’s Fernandez, Chelsea must now make the requisite moves to bring the budding prospect to Stamford Bridge.
With all of this in mind, there is no feasible reason as to why his introduction to the major European scene should not be in Chelsea colours, with the 5 foot 10 technician’s control and ball-playing excellence, he could be the thread to weave Chelsea’s rich tapestry of talent together without seam.
Once upon a time, Chelsea yielded De Bruyne within their ranks, but his script had not been written and the west London outfit granted his departure prior to full bloom; however, belatedly, they can put right past wrongs and ensure that Fernandez arrives at Stamford Bridge, moulding into a player with every bit the potential to emulate the Belgian’s phenomenal feats.