Benfica boss Roger Schmidt reveals how Enzo Fernandez has reacted to Chelsea move collapsing
Posted by  badge Boss on Jan 10
The Argentine midfielder has now returned to training (Picture: Getty Images)

Benfica boss Roger Schmidt insists the transfer saga that has surrounded target is now ‘closed’ and the midfielder is back in training and happy at the club.

The winner was the subject of intense interest from Chelsea, who held talks with Benfica over a possible deal that would see them pay his €120million (£105m) release clause in three instalments over several years.

There were also suggestions that they had offered a heavily incentivised deal worth £79m that included .

But the Portuguese club were adamant the 21-year-old – who only moved to Lisbon from River Plate in the summer – would not leave unless Chelsea paid the release clause in full.

In fact, the west London club’s attempts to sign Fernandez were met with anger from Benfica, with Schmidt claiming they turned the midfielder ‘crazy’ and had only ‘pretended’ they could pay the release clause.

Fernandez had also tried to force the move himself, skipping training and travelling back home to Argentina to celebrate New Year’s Eve without the club’s permission.

He was subsequently left out of Friday’s 1-0 win over Portimonense, but Schmidt has now confirmed that he is back in training and fully focused on Benfica – though is not guaranteed to start against Varzim in the Portuguese Cup on Tuesday evening.

Fernandez shone during Argentina’s victorious World Cup campaign (Picture: Getty)

Asked about the midfielder on Monday, Schmidt said: ‘I already said it last week at the press conference and also after the game against Portimonense. The issue with Enzo is closed. There is no issue anymore.

‘So he is our player, he is in a very good condition, he is training well, he is happy here, he is part of the squad and he is a key player. So I think I have already said everything about him.’

A further question about how Fernandez has been received by his team-mates since returning to training was shut down by Benfica’s press officer, with Schmidt reiterating: ‘The issue is closed with Enzo, I said that at the beginning of the press conference.’

Schmidt had torn into Chelsea’s transfer tactics last week, saying: ‘We do not want to sell Enzo. Not me, not the president, nobody. We know, everyone knows, he has a clause in the contract and if the player wants to leave and someone comes and pays the clause of course we cannot work against that. Then maybe we will lose the player.

‘There is a club who want our player. They know we don’t want to sell the player. They tried to get the player on their side and they know they can only get this player when they pay the clause. It is a very clear situation. What the club is doing, it is disrespectful against all of us, against Benfica and I cannot accept what they are doing.

‘So to make the player crazy, and then to pretend they can pay the clause and then later they want to negotiate, it is not what I understand to be a good relationship between clubs who want to discuss players.’

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