Chelsea have finally agreed a British record fee to sign Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez but are now racing to finalise the transfer before Tuesday’s 11pm deadline, according to reports.
After weeks of talks that intensified even further on deadline day, the west London club made a breakthrough at around 10pm and will make Fernandez the most expensive signing in Premier League history.
According to The Telegraph, Chelsea have agreed to pay £105million for the Argentine World Cup winner – a fee which trumps the £100m Manchester City paid for Jack Grealish.
However, the Blues have less than an hour to complete the deal and submit all the necessary paperwork, though they can put forward a deal sheet before the deadline to grant themselves more time.
A deal sheet confirms that negotiations have been completed and an agreement has been reached, and grants clubs an extended period of time to put the finishing touches on the deal.
Benfica had been adamant that Fernandez would only be sold if his £105m release clause was paid in full but Chelsea have managed to persuade the Portuguese club to accept that fee in instalments.
There had been suggestions that the payments could be made over a period of as much as five years, with Chelsea unable to stump up a big fee now due to Financial Fair Play restrictions.
However, the final deal is set to see Benfica receive the fee in three instalments spread over two years.
As has been the case with other January signings, Fernandez will sign a long-term deal that allows Chelsea to amortise the £105m fee over a longer period of time to get around FFP rules.
The 22-year-old – who agreed personal terms nearly a month ago – only moved to Benfica in the summer from River Plate but has earned rave reviews in Lisbon and was particularly impressive at the World Cup.
Fernandez was named the best young player at the tournament and played a pivotal role in Argentina’s victory and Chelsea believe he can be a bedrock of their midfield for the next decade.
Fernandez’s arrival will take Chelsea’s spending in January past the £250m mark in what has been one of the biggest ever transfer splurges the Premier League has seen.
Prior to Tuesday’s deadline, the club had already brought in Mykhailo Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke, several promising wonderkids and forked out a massive loan fee to sign Joao Felix from Atletico Madrid until the end of the season.
Earlier in the day, Chelsea offloaded Jorginho – who only had six months left on his contract – to Arsenal in a £12million deal, while they briefly entertained offers for Conor Gallagher.