After rumors swirled for months, London’s Blues made one final mega-splash in the January transfer window — meet World Cup champion Enzo Fernández, Chelsea’s newest midfield star.
On a last-minute deadline day mega deal, Chelsea has signed Argentina central midfielder Enzo Fernández from Portuguese side Benfica. The 22-year-old World Cup winner signed for the Blues after paying his $125.18 million release clause. The sale broke the Premier League record of $118.89 million previously set by Manchester City’s purchase of Jack Grealish from Aston Villa in 2021. Fernández is now the most expensive midfielder in world football history, as well as the most expensive player with fewer than 100 career domestic league games played.
Fernández is Chelsea’s seventh January transfer window signing, leading all clubs for incoming players. The Blues have signed Fernández, Benoît Badiashile, David Datro Fofana, Andrey Santos, Mykhailo Mudryk, Noni Madueke, and Malo Gusto for a record-breaking total of over $300 million (!). Since owner and chairperson Todd Boehly took over the club last May, Chelsea’s seemingly endless supply of cash continues to structure long-term deals that spread out costs over a period of years. That way, the club honors UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations meant to cap what the governing body considers to be excessive economic losses.
The Stamford Bridge club has chased the signature of Fernández since the window’s opening. Multiple sources have reported that Chelsea was the only club in talks with Benfica for the player, as they were alone in the willingness to spend enough to trigger the release clause. Despite Benfica’s desire to keep Enzo, he urged the club to accept the offer now. Meanwhile, the Blues wanted to seal the deal this January to avoid contending against more top European competition worldwide this summer (at which point the player’s price tag is likely to be even higher).
The Argentine only made 17 appearances for Benfica after joining the club in the summer of 2022 from River Plate for a reported €16 million (about $17.5 million). Chelsea backed up the Brinks truck to pay his contract’s $125.18 million release clause, an approximate 615.3% increase over his previous transfer fee.
Yes, you read that right — in six months, the Portuguese club sold a player for more than seven times what they originally paid.
Fernández impressed the world as the binding element of Argentina’s World Cup win in Qatar last month. After winning the tournament’s Best Young Player award despite just 10 total international appearances for Argentina to date, the midfielder showed his ability to be a difference-maker on the pitch next to all-time talent like Lionel Messi. Further, UEFA Champion’s League experiences mitigate risk for Boehly and manager Graham Potter, who surely believe the record-breaking investment will pay off in no uncertain terms.
Enzo Fernández Transfer Details: Benfica to Chelsea
Deal agreed on: Jan. 31, 2023
Reported years: 8.5
Reported transfer fee: $125,180,000
Fernández’s estimated market value: $56,900,000 via Transfermarkt
Enzo Fernández Stats Per 90
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How Enzo Fernández Fits in at Chelsea
Fernández shines best as a central midfielder with the ability to key a box-to-box role. Anchoring the midfield, Enzo can use his incredible vision to build up attacks from short passes, ultimately controlling the entire tempo of the game by keeping the ball in attacking areas and winning it back defensively in the final third. Off the ball, his vision allows him to creep into tight space and receive the ball to push the attack and pressure the defense.
Given his attributes, Chelsea will likely use Enzo as a left-sided or deep-lying midfielder in a similar role to the injured N’Golo Kante. Under Potter, Chelsea operates under a possession-oriented 4-3-3, similarly geared towards his style at Argentina. His safe passing style mimics the likes of veteran midfielder Jorginho, who left the club after joining Arsenal in the January window. However, Fernández has the dribbling skills to carry the ball further up the pitch than the departing Italian midfielder, allowing newcomers like Mudryk to thrive on the end of laser-accurate passes.
Enzo has a clear path of starting consistently with Jorginho’s departure. he has the work rate, talent, and style to impact Potter’s starting XI immediately, and for the next eight years besides. While fewer than 100 total games sounds like a small sample size for such an eye-popping investment, Boehly is determined to spare no expense on the path to a first Premier League title since 2016-17.
Now, the club must find a way to fit all their new puzzle pieces together.
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