Chelsea sign World Cup star Fernandez for Premier League record fee

By Sports Desk January 31, 2023

Enzo Fernandez has finally signed for Chelsea, becoming the Premier League's record signing after the Blues met his £106.8million (€121m) release clause at Benfica.

Fernandez, who was named Young Player of the Tournament after helping Argentina win the 2022 World Cup, was strongly linked with Chelsea earlier in the transfer window before talks broke down.

However, the big-spending Blues went back in for him with the end of the window drawing closer, signing Fernandez to a long-term contract – rumoured to run until 2032 – with confirmation arriving an hour and a half after the transfer window closed.

Chelsea submitted the relevant paperwork in time and Benfica were first to announce details of the deal on their official website on Wednesday.

His arrival takes Chelsea's spending to a reported £288.5m (€328.5m) in January alone, with the midfielder becoming their eighth signing of the window.

Fernandez only joined Benfica from River Plate last year but has played a starring role for them since making that move, helping the Portuguese giants top their Champions League group.

He had looked likely to remain in Lisbon at least until the end of the season, but Chelsea revisited the deal with head coach Graham Potter reportedly keen for midfield reinforcements.

The fee surpasses the previous Premier League transfer record, set by Jack Grealish's £100m switch from Aston Villa to Manchester City in 2021.

Fernandez could make his Chelsea debut against Fulham at Stamford Bridge on Friday, as the Blues look to climb the table after a poor run of form saw them drop to 10th position. 

A dogged competitor with an eye for the magnificent, Fernandez featured in all seven of Argentina's games in Qatar, starting five of them after he came off the bench to net a superb goal against Mexico in the group stage.

 

Fernandez's ability on the ball, as well as his tenacity, will add a new facet to Potter's midfield options.

Only 11 players carried the ball further than Fernandez (1,239.7 metres) at the World Cup, while just 10 were involved in more shot-ending sequences than his 27.

Fernandez boasted a duel success rate of 58.8 per cent, winning 40 of his 68 engagements at the tournament.

He made just 17 league appearances during his short stint with Benfica, though he also featured in five group games in the Champions League.

Related items

  • 'I don't care where I play' says 'grateful' Gray after centre-back run-out on Spurs debut 'I don't care where I play' says 'grateful' Gray after centre-back run-out on Spurs debut

    Archie Gray is willing to play wherever Ange Postecoglou wants him to, after he featured at centre-back on his Tottenham debut.

    Gray signed for Spurs at the start of July in a deal reportedly worth up to £40million.

    The 18-year-old impressed in Leeds United's Championship campaign last season.

    However, he had to settle for an unfamiliar role in defence, alongside another midfielder - Oliver Skipp - when Spurs played Hearts in a pre-season friendly on Wednesday.

    Not that it negatively impacted the result, with Spurs cruising to a 5-1 victory; goals from Brennan Johnson, Will Lankshear, Mikey Moore and Djed Spence were added to by Lewis Neilson's own goal.

    "Definitely [a good start], it was great to get a good feel of playing the ball and getting minutes in the legs," Gray said in a post-match interview with Spurs' social media channels.

    "I wasn't expecting to play centre-back but I'm just grateful to come in and get the opportunity to play.

    "I don't really care where I play, I'm 18 and need to learn the game. Anywhere he puts me, I'm happy to learn and have great team-mates around me to teach me."

    "Just getting used to the simple things that my team-mates like on and off the pitch, trying to get to know them – today really helped," Gray continued.

    "They're all brilliant, they've all helped me so much, especially Pedro today, he was really helpful. Everyone in training, too. Every single day, everyone's trying to help.

    "I feel lucky to be watching the front players we've got – so many good players. I wouldn't say I'm lucky to play in this team, I've worked hard, but I'm excited for the next few games."

    Gray's performance earned plaudits from his new manager.

    Postecoglou said: "Archie did well. He and Skippy weren't expecting to be starting in the back four.

    "It's about guys like Archie getting accustomed to how we play, how we train – he's an intelligent kid. I knew he'd cope okay.

    "I thought he was really good, he did the things we know he can do well. He's adapting to the intensity and tempo."

  • Having Van Nistelrooy as coach is 'special', says Man Utd new boy Zirkzee Having Van Nistelrooy as coach is 'special', says Man Utd new boy Zirkzee

    Joshua Zirkzee feels privileged to have Dutch coaches during his first season at Manchester United, as he explained it is "special" to have Ruud van Nistelrooy offering a guiding hand.

    Zirkzee joined Manchester United last week, signing for £35million (€42.5m) from Serie A club Bologna.

    The 23-year-old Dutch international scored 11 league goals last season to propel Bologna into the Champions League.

    And Zirkzee feels having compatriots like Erik ten Hag and, in particular, former United forward Van Nistelrooy in the coaching staff, can only be a benefit as he aims to adjust to life in the Premier League.

    "Manchester United is a great, huge club so it's just an extra privilege and benefit for me," he said in an interview with the club's media channels.

    "Having some Dutch people around obviously makes it a bit easier, [but] to be fair I'm an easygoing person, I'm not too difficult adapting.

    "Obviously when I was younger, watching the Dutch national team, Manchester United, watching [Van Nistelrooy] play, he was one of the guys who you were pretending to be when you were out playing with friends.

    "So having him out here is obviously a bit special, it's great."

    Zirkzee is hoping to hit the ground running after impressing in Italy.

    "Yeah, it's been a roller-coaster the past few weeks, but some very good experiences. I'm very happy to be here," Zirkzee said.

    "Making a transfer to Manchester United is obviously something very positive, so yeah, I just can't wait to get started and continue what I basically did last season."

    Zirkzee also offered a hint at what fans can expect to see from him.

    He added: "As a young boy growing up, playing mostly with tougher, bigger guys who are older than you make you adapt, so I think that's something that you learn at a young age in Holland, especially where I grew up.

    "[I'm a] creative player, good with the ball, I'm just a bit unpredictable at times."

  • Anderton: England would have won Euro 2024 under Guardiola Anderton: England would have won Euro 2024 under Guardiola

    Former England winger Darren Anderton believes the Three Lions would have won the Euros if Pep Guardiola had been in charge.

    Following England's 2-1 defeat to Spain in the Euro 2024 final, the Football Association (FA) announced on Tuesday that Gareth Southgate had stepped down as manager.

    Since then, a host of names have been linked with the vacant job, with Eddie Howe and Graham Potter among the reported frontrunners.

    One of the others being linked with the position is Guardiola, who is going into the final year of his contract at Manchester City.

    The Spaniard won an unprecedented fourth consecutive Premier League title with the Citizens last season, though conceded at the end of the campaign he was "closer to leaving than staying".

    Guardiola expressed an interest in managing a national team in the past, and Anderton, who represented the Three Lions at Euro 1996, is confident he would bring England success.

    "I think the best way to address it is that if Pep managed this squad for this tournament, I think we would have won it, and we would have probably won it pretty comfortably," Anderton told Stats Perform.

    Guardiola's long-time rival Jurgen Klopp has also been mooted as an option following his departure from Liverpool after nearly nine years at the club.

    Klopp was approached by the United States after they sacked head coach Gregg Berhalter in the wake of a disappointing Copa America campaign, but the German rebuffed that offer as he continues his sabbatical.

    However, Anderton thinks Klopp would be a great fit for England.

    "We know what he's all about, he knows what English football's all about," Anderton said. "Successful, plays an exciting brand of football.

    "I think he gets the best out of players. Players seem to love him, want to play for him. I think he would play a brand of football that we'd be excited by.

    "He's another one that I could totally understand if he were to be offered it. I don't think you can go wrong at all, apart from just the non-English aspect."

    Lionesses manager Sarina Wiegman is another name in the mix, though she has already labelled the links as "inappropriate".

    Wiegman led England's women to Euros glory in 2022, while also guiding them to their first-ever World Cup final, which they lost to Spain.

    Despite the 54-year-old's success, Anderton admits he would be shocked if the FA chose to appoint her.

    "I understand a name being thrown in. I just feel that that wouldn't work," Anderton added.

    "Obviously, the two games are totally different. She has been incredibly successful, but I just can't see that happening.

    "For me, that would obviously be a huge, huge shock, but she's obviously done an incredible job and has been a winner. But I feel for me that's something that I'd be really, really shocked by if it happened."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.