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 £105million 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 amount 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.
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.
Chelsea announced on Wednesday a deal for 20-year-old Ivory Coast striker David Datro Fofana.
The Molde starlet will complete a move to the west London club for a transfer fee of £10.6million.
Chelsea are also 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 bound for Stamford Bridge in 2023 too, with a deal in excess of £50m already struck.