no deal | 

Benfica coach points accusing finger at Chelsea over Enzo Fernandez stand-off

Chelsea emerged as the sole contenders to sign Fernandez from Benfica.

Argentina's Enzo Fernandez kisses the World Cup trophy before the ceremony following FIFA World Cup final at Lusail Stadium, Qatar. Picture date: Sunday December 18, 2022.© PA

Kevin PalmerSunday World

There appears to be only one team left in the race to sign Argentina World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez, but it seems increasingly likely that the deal will not be completed.

Chelsea emerged as the sole contenders to sign Fernandez when Benfica made it clear they would not consider a sale this month unless their €120million asking price was met.

Yet Chelsea are refusing to meet that lavish demand, inspiring Benfica coach Roger Schmidt to question the transfer tactics of the Premier League club.

Reports claim Chelsea are offering a cash sum considerably below €100million, even though Fernandez is believed to have set his heart on a move to Stamford Bridge.

Now Schmidt has come out fighting, with comments that suggests Benfica’s stance over a possible move for Fernandez has hardened.

“We do not want to sell Enzo,” Schmidt told a press conference. “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 understands to be good relationship between clubs who want to discuss players.”

Meanwhile, Chelsea have signed France defender Benoit Badiashile from Monaco on a seven-and-a-half-year deal, the Premier League club have confirmed.

The 21-year-old has moved to Stamford Bridge for a reported £35million fee, having made over 100 appearances in Ligue 1 for the Principality side.

He has also played in the Champions League and been capped twice by the French national team, making his debut for Didier Deschamps’ side in a 2-1 win against Austria last September.

Badiashile becomes Chelsea’s third major central-defensive signing this season following the arrivals of Kalidou Koulibaly and Wesley Fofana during the summer transfer window.

“I’m very happy to be here at Chelsea,” Badiashile told the club’s website. “I’m so excited to start playing for this club. I can’t wait to see the fans and start playing in the best league in the world.”

He is the club’s second signing of the January window after striker David Datro Fofana joined from Norwegian side Molde earlier this week.

“We’re delighted to welcome Benoit to Chelsea,” chairman Todd Boehly and co-owner Behdad Eghbali told the club’s website. “He’s an excellent young player who has quickly established a strong reputation for himself and has a huge amount of experience for his young age. We are sure he will form an important part of our team in the years ahead.”

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