Chelsea raiding Benfica is a tale as old as time and history suggests it leads to success for the Premier League giants.
In 2014, midfielder Nemanja Matic was signed from the Portuguese club – for the second time – and eight years later, it looks like World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez will follow the same path.
It is said he is close to sealing a switch to Stamford Bridge in a deal that would smash the Premier League transfer record.
Chelsea will reportedly spent a huge £112million on the 21-year-old midfielder – £6m more than his release fee of £106m.
The player has annoyed his current bosses by skipping training for a New Year’s Eve party back in Argentina, but it seems like that matters little to the man who shone alongside Lionel Messi.
The Blues are hoping the arrival of Fernandez will help lift the cloud over what has been a stuttering season so far with Graham Potter’s side languishing in ninth place, 18 points adrift of leaders Arsenal.
The switch will evoke memories for Chelsea fans of another midfield capture from Benfica when Jose Mourinho lured Matic back to the club in January 2014.
Mourinho told Chelsea’s board that Matic should be prioritised as part of his squad rebuild following his second spell in charge.
Matic was a makeweight in the £23.5m deal to bring David Luiz to Chelsea in 2011 and spent three years establishing his career at the Estadio da Luz.
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The Serbia international quickly built his reputation with a host of fine displays under the then coach Jorge Jesus, helping the club to the league title in 2014.
Matic quickly became a household name under Mourinho and played a key role in Chelsea securing two Premier League titles in three years – either side of Leicester City’s miraculous triumph in 2016.
Mourinho’s bold move to bring Matic back to the club gave Chelsea the impetus to challenge for the trophy and they will hope the acquisition of Fernandez can provide the boost needed to get back amongst the chasing pack.
Fernandez has been in fabulous form for Benfica since his £9m switch from River Plate in the summer.
His adaptation to European football was quick and helped the Portuguese giants top their Champions League group ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.
The Argentine has played a leading role as Benfica surged to a five-point lead at the top of the Portuguese league ahead of Porto.
He won the best young player award in Qatar and was praised for his displays as his nation won the World Cup.
“He’s playing like a 29-year-old, he’s ended up getting booked for a foul, stopped play, stopped the attack, and he was the one that cannoned the ball of somebody,” England legend Stuart Pearce told talkSPORT.
“They just know what to do at a very young age, very clever game understanding.”
Now Fernandez’s future appears to be in west London as he fights it out with Jorginho, Denis Zakaria, Mateo Kovacic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek for a place in Potter’s starting midfield.
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