CHELSEA are willing to pay the £105MILLION release clause of World Cup star Enzo Fernandez in the January window.
Benfica midfielder Fernandez, 21, shone for Argentina in Qatar, winning Young Player of the Tournament as they defeated France in the final on penalties earlier this month.
Liverpool and Manchester United are also showing an interest.
However, Blues officials have stolen a march and informed Portuguese giants Benfica of their desire to get the deal done.
Fernandez has a contract until 2027, with Benfica playing hardball to keep him.
But in a meeting with club president Rui Costa and super-agent Jorge Mendes, they were told the mammoth release clause would be no issue.
And now the west Londoners are tasked with reaching a personal agreement with Fernandez and his representatives.
Chelsea are desperate to secure his services with Premier League rivals United and Liverpool preferring to wait until the summer to submit their bids.
Fernandez scored his first and only goal for Argentina in their 2-0 group stage win over Mexico, becoming the second youngest scorer for his nation at a World Cup behind Lionel Messi.
Midfield is a position boss Graham Potter is keen to bolster, with Jorginho and N’Golo Kante’s deals expiring at the end of the season.
Most read in Football
Chelsea remain interested in summer targets Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham, but are determined to improve that area over the next few weeks.
It has been an aggressive start to the winter window for the west Londoners, with 20-year-old Molde striker David Datro Fofana arriving on January 1 for £8m.
The wonderkid will come in to replace the injured Armando Broja, who will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, and provide competition for Kai Havertz and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Ivory Coast international Fofana scored 15 times in 24 matches for the Norwegian side to help them to their recent league title, with the club acknowledging he now wanted to “follow in the footsteps of legend Didier Drogba.”
Chelsea have also agreed a £50m deal to sign RB Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku next summer.