Chelsea make British transfer record bid for Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez

Blues reportedly submit £115m offer for the Argentine World Cup winner and could also attempt a move for Brighton's Moises Caicedo

Enzo Fernandez was named Best Young Player at the 2022 World Cup for his role in helping Argentina win the trophy. PA
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Chelsea are aiming to continue their record-breaking season of transfer spending after submitting a bid of £115 million ($141.8m) for Benfica's World Cup-winning midfielder Enzo Fernandez, according to several reports.

Fernandez has been a top target for the Premier League club throughout the January transfer window, although earlier talks broke down after Benfica accused Chelsea of failing to stick to their word over matching the Argentine's €120m ($130.1m) buyout clause.

However, with less than two days until deadline, Chelsea reportedly lodged an offer that would eclipse the British transfer record of Jack Grealish's £100m move from Aston Villa to Manchester City. The reported package of £115m will be more than Fernandez's release clause but will be paid in instalments, and there is thought to be increasing belief on both sides that a deal will be completed before Tuesday night's deadline.

Chelsea have been overly active in the transfer market this month and have spent more than £155m on seven players, with Ukrainian forward Mykhaylo Mudryk, French defender Benoit Badiashile, English winger Noni Madueke, Brazilian striker Andrey Santos, and Ivorian striker David Datro Fofana all arriving at Stamford Bridge. French right-back Malo Gusto has also been signed but will spend the rest of the season back on loan at Lyon, while Portuguese playmaker Joao Felix joined on loan from Atletico Madrid.

Chelsea's busy month follows a summer in which they spent £278.4m on new players – a Premier League record for most money spent in one transfer window.

For all the money spent and the many new faces arriving at Chelsea, a deal for Fernandez would be the most eye-catching. The 21-year-old played a pivotal role in Argentina's World Cup triumph in Qatar, winning the Best Young Player award, and is regarded as one of the most exciting young talents in world football.

Fernandez would also bolster a midfield in need of refreshing. Defensive midfielder N'Golo Kante has struggled for fitness in recent seasons and is out of contract in June, as is Jorginho, while the likes of Conor Gallagher and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have struggled to convince that they are the long-term answer. Denis Zakaria has done well since getting his chance in the team but, as a loan player, his future at the club is far from guaranteed. Carney Chukwuemeka looks an exciting talent but at 19 years old has plenty of room to develop.

Identifying central midfield as an area to improve, Chelsea have also set their sights on Brighton & Hove Albion's Moises Caicedo, although any move for the Ecuadorian is likely to depend on outgoings.

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Caicedo was signed by, and played under, current Chelsea manager Graham Potter and the former Brighton boss is a big admirer of the 21-year-old midfielder. Brighton have always maintained that they are not interested in selling Caicedo this month, although the player made public his desire to leave the club in a recent social media post.

Arsenal are also reported to be interested in the Ecuador international and will hope Chelsea don't beat them to another top target. The Gunners had expected to sign Mudryk, before the Blues swept in at the 11th hour.

Among the Chelsea exits that could take place this month, Arsenal are reportedly interested in Jorginho, and talks are thought to be ongoing with Paris Saint-Germain over Hakim Ziyech.

Gallagher, meanwhile, is a target for Newcastle United, Everton, and Crystal Palace. Everton, who appointed Sean Dyche as their new manager this week, made a bid on Monday for the England international but he is said to not be keen on a move to Goodison Park.

Updated: January 31, 2023, 6:34 AM