has posted an emotional farewell message to Benfica’s fans after he completed his British record transfer move to on deadline day.
The 22-year-old underwent a medical in Lisbon on Tuesday evening as the clubs worked towards an agreement, with divisions relating to the instalments in which the £106.8million fee will be paid taking the deal down to the wire.
Fernandez, who won the Silver Ball for best young player during Argentina’s triumphant in last year, has signed an eight-and-a-half-year contract, in keeping with the club’s policy this season of signing players on lengthy terms in order to spread their outgoings and remain within UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules.
It has been a meteoric rise to prominence for Fernandez, who joined Benfica from from River Plate in Argentina only seven months ago for £8.8m, but his stock soared after a successful start to the season in Portugal’s Primeira Liga, leading him to command a British transfer record fee after just 29 games for the Lisbon side.
He shot to global attention as his country became world champions for the third time in December, beginning the tournament as a substitute but breaking into the team after scoring against Mexico and starting every subsequent match, including the final against France in Lusail. He had made his senior international debut for Lionel Scaloni’s team as recently as last September.
, Chelsea were reportedly persuaded to return with a new bid after it emerged UEFA plans to introduce maximum contract terms starting with the next transfer window.
Fernandez flew into London on Wednesday to meet his new manager and teammates for the first time but took the time to thank those who made his brief spell in Portugal a memorable and successful one.
He wrote on Instagram: ‘Much obliged’Thank you Benfiquistas. My family wanted to thank you for all the love we received in these last five months,
‘I am grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world.
‘I enjoyed every moment to the fullest and always gave my best. Let the press not stain what we built together because it was something wonderful that I had never imagined.
‘Thanks to all the people who work too hard to make the institution much bigger than it is.
‘Thanks to my colleagues for always treating me in the best way and making me feel at home.
‘I am grateful to the club’s leadership and especially to Roger Schmidt, to all your work staff for the trust and daily respect. I was very happy.’
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