Enzo Fernandez causes fury at Benfica after Chelsea transfer target goes AWOL

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Enzo Fernandez in action for Benfica (Image: Getty Images)
Enzo Fernandez in action for Benfica (Image: Getty Images)

Enzo Fernandez has left Benfica fuming after heading back to Argentina to celebrate New Year without permission.

Benfica boss Roger Schmidt has expressed his anger at the Chelsea transfer target Enzo Fernandez and revealed there will be 'consequences' for the 21-year-old, who flew back to his homeland to spend New Year's Eve with his family.

Fernandez had returned to action for Benfica on December 30 as they fell to a 3-0 defeat against Braga - just 12 days after the World Cup final. But Fernandez returned to Argentina and skipped two training sessions in the meantime, with the midfielder now facing a 'heavy fine' for breaching disciplinary regulations - at a time when his future is in major question.

Chelsea have been heavily linked with a move for Fernandez in recent weeks and a big-money deal - potentially making him the Premier League's most expensive transfer - appears to be in the offing.

Fernandez has a a release clause of £106million in his Benfica contract, but Chelsea are yet to meet that figure. Suggestions are that Blues owner Todd Boehly is keen to spread the payments - potentially paying £37million over a three-year period - to get a deal done and not fall foul of Financial Fair Play regulations. However, Benfica are continuing to point towards his release clause amid their desire to get all the money up front.

Chelsea complete record-breaking Enzo Fernandez transfer after deadline day rush rridqziqtqitinvChelsea complete record-breaking Enzo Fernandez transfer after deadline day rush

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Schmidt said: "It was a very talked about subject this week. Enzo is a good guy and an extraordinary player, we want him to stay, the situation is not easy, he played in the World Cup, won the World Cup, had proposals, there is a lot of money at stake. He is a young man player, this is confusing, we all understand this.

"But he is an excellent person. He was not authorised to go to Argentina, it is not acceptable, there will be consequences, I will not say which ones.

Enzo Fernandez causes fury at Benfica after Chelsea transfer target goes AWOLEnzo Fernandez has been linked with a move to Chelsea (Getty Images)

"We do not want to sell him, neither I nor the president. we know that there is a release clause, if he wants to leave and someone violates the clause, maybe we lose the player. There is a club that wants him, they tried to attract him, but they know that they can only have him if they pay the clause.

"It's disrespectful to all of us, to Benfica, they're driving the player crazy, they pretend they want to pay the clause and then they want to negotiate. About Enzo is all I'm going to say and I'm not going to answer any more questions about it."

Fernandez only arrived in Lisbon from River Plate six months ago, signing a deal until 2027 with the Eagles.

Kieran King

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