Chelsea are trying to force through a January deal for Argentina World Cup star Enzo Fernandez, talkSPORT understands.
The Blues are ready to meet the £105m release clause in Fernandez’s Benfica contract to steal a march on rival suitors.
Midfielder Fernandez emerged as one of Argentina’s standout players in their World Cup triumph, and was handed the FIFA Young Player award for his performances in Qatar.
He only joined Benfica in the summer, and the Portuguese club would prefer to sell at the end of the season when Liverpool and Manchester United could be among an array of European clubs entering the race.
But Chelsea want to do a deal now and are ready to pay a club record fee to secure the 21-year-old’s signature.
A fee of £105million for Fernandez would top their previous record outlay – the £97.5m they paid Inter Milan for Romelu Lukaku.
Chelsea are also understood to be in advanced talks to sign another 21-year-old – Monaco central defender Benoit Badiashile – for a fee of around £35m.
RB Leipzig and France attacker Christopher Nkunku is also bound for Stamford Bridge in 2023, with a deal in excess of £50m already struck.
Following the Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital takeover, Chelsea have made a number of changes behind the scenes and have a clear plan to bring in young talent under the tutelage of Graham Potter, who was appointed as manager in September.