Enzo Fernandez ‘close to £112m Chelsea move’ as Blues sort instalments dilemma

Chelsea are close to sealing a club-record £112m move for Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez, smashing the £98m they spent on Romelu Lukaku in 2021.

Negotiations between the two clubs are in the final stages and the Argentinian World Cup winner is expected sign on the dotted line in the coming days, becoming the Premier League's most expensive import in the process.

Chelsea have decided to pay more than Fernandez's £106m release clause in order to negotiate a different deal structure, rather than having to pay the fee in one lump sum.

READ MORE: Benoit Badiashile's Chelsea medical on Monday with 'goodbyes already done'

According to journalist Gianluca Di Marzio, the Blues will pay just over £100m in three instalments with around £12m included as performance-related add-ons.

Fernandez, who joined Benfica from River Plate for £10m in the summer, has little over 100 senior appearances to his name, but his performances at the World Cup suggest his quality will outweigh his inexperience.

The 21-year-old, who started each of Argentina's knockout matches in Qatar, was crowned young player of the tournament following his side's win over France in the final.

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Fernandez's arrival will signal the first major change to Chelsea's midfield since Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic arrived in 2018.

The club have been keen to revamp the centre of the park for some time, especially since N'Golo Kante's injury troubles kicked into overdrive in 2021, and although the Frenchman is currently in talks over a contract extension, it's understood a defensive midfielder is next on Chelsea's priority list.

Declan Rice and Moises Caicedo remain top targets, though the Blues will likely have to wait until the summer to land either of them.

Elsewhere, Chelsea are closing in two other signings; Monaco centre back Benoit Badiashile, and Vasco da Gama youngster Andrey Santos in what is set to be the beginning of a very busy January.

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