Enzo Fernandez has been left out of Benfica’s squad to face Portimonense amid interest from Chelsea.
The Argentine World Cup winner didn’t even made the bench for the league clash despite being available for selection.
Fernandez, 21, has been heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge which has drawn criticism from Benfica boss Roger Schmidt.
Speaking earlier this week, the German said: “Enzo is a good guy and an extraordinary player, we want him to stay, the situation is not easy.
“He played in the World Cup, won the World Cup, had proposals, there is a lot of money at stake.
“He is a young man player, this is confusing, we all understand this. But he is an excellent person.
“He was not authorised to go to Argentina, it is not acceptable, there will be consequences, I will not say which ones.
“We do not want to sell him, neither I nor the president. we know that there is a release clause, if he wants to leave and someone violates the clause, maybe we lose the player.
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“There is a club that wants him, they tried to attract him, but they know that they can only have him if they pay the clause. It’s disrespectful to all of us, to Benfica, they’re driving the player crazy, they pretend they want to pay the clause and then they want to negotiate.
“About Enzo is all I’m going to say and I’m not going to answer any more questions about it.”
With plenty of focus on Schmidt’s next move, the former Bayer Leverkusen coach opted to omit the player from his squad.
This comes with the Chelsea story taking a number of twists and turns with the Blues seemingly front-runners for Fernandez.
Earlier reports claimed Graham Potter’s side were set to match the midfielder’s £106million release clause, but things then changed.
It now seems Chelsea aren’t so keen to eclipse the record £97.5m they paid Inter Milan for Romelu Lukaku, instead offering around £87m and three players.
Despite Fernandez’ absence, Benfica one the Primeira Liga match 1-0 thanks to former West Ham man Joao Mario, and Schmidt commented on his Argentine star post-match.
“It is clear that [Enzo] has not been well in the last week, that is why he was not in the team,” he said.
“But tomorrow morning I will be very happy to count on him in training
“He is our player, we count on him with him and we need him to be champions. Now we can focus on football.”
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