Chelsea have agreed a British record £107 million deal for Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez, the Portuguese club confirmed late on Tuesday night, bringing an end to protracted negotiations on a frenetic final day of the January transfer window.
With the clock ticking, the two clubs finally reached agreement about the structure of payments to meet the release fee in the 22-year-old midfielder's contract.
The fee eclipses the £100m Manchester City paid Aston Villa for England midfielder Jack Grealish in 2021, and makes Fernandez the joint-sixth most expensive player of all time.
"Sport Lisboa e Benfica - Futebol, SAD reports that it has reached an agreement with Chelsea FC for the sale of all the rights of the player Enzo Fernández, for an amount of €121,000,000 [one hundred and twenty-one million euros]," the Primeira Liga club said in a statement.
While there has yet to be an official announcement from Chelsea to confirm the signing of Fernandez, it is understood that the necessary paperwork was filed prior to the deadline.
The midfielder, who was excluded from the Benfica squad for Tuesday night's match at Arouca in order to undergo a medical, has signed an eight-and-a-half-year contract with Chelsea.
Fernandez is Chelsea's seventh permanent signing of the January transfer window – following the arrivals of Mykhaylo Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke, Malo Gusto, Andrey Santos, and David Datro Fofana – while Joao Felix has also ben recruited on loan. It takes the Blues' spending to around £290m for the month and around £540m for the season.
For all the signings previously made, Fernandez had always been Chelsea's top target and the Premier League club failed in their initial attempt to sign with Argentine World Cup winner earlier in the month. Benfica had been adamant that only a lump sum to trigger the midfielder's £105m buyout clause would make them sell, but lengthy negotiations over the past two days ultimately forced a breakthrough.
Fernandez was instrumental in Argentina's World Cup campaign in Qatar, with the 22-year-old breaking into the starting lineup and playing every game, capping off the tournament by bagging the Young Player Award.
He only joined Benfica last August in a £10m deal from Argentine side River Plate and has played 29 times in all competitions, scoring four goals and creating seven assists.
Jorginho joins Arsenal
Chelsea manager Graham Potter will now have to contend with balancing a massive squad until the end of the season, although the club did arrange one departure on deadline day as vice-captain Jorginho joined rivals Arsenal in a £12m deal.
Jorginho, who joined Chelsea in 2018 from Napoli and helped the club win the Europa League in 2019 and the Champions League in 2021, had entered the final six months of his contract and could have left Stamford Bridge on a free transfer at the end of the season.
The Italian's arrival will provide depth to the Arsenal midfield as Mikel Arteta aims to guide the club to their first Premier League title in 19 years. The Gunners are currently top of the standings by five points with a game in hand.
“I was a bit surprised, but I took the opportunity of this amazing challenge,” Jorginho, 31, said after signing an 18-month contract. “It’s an important shirt. It’s an amazing club.”
Chelsea had also hoped to sanction exits for Hakim Ziyech and Conor Gallagher. Moroccan winger Ziyech was expected to join Paris Saint-Germain on loan, and was reportedly in the PSG offices to complete the move, but the paperwork was not filed in time.
Gallagher, meanwhile, had attracted a £40m bid from Everton and further interest from Newcastle and Crystal Palace, but the late nature of the Fernandez deal meant Chelsea kept hold of the England international.
Southampton break transfer record
At the opposite end of the Premier League table, Southampton opened their chequebook in an effort to stave off relegation, completing a club record £22m deal for winger Kamaldeen Sulemana from Rennes.
The 20-year-old Ghana international has signed a four-and-a-half-year deal, keeping him at the club until 2027.
The Saints, who are bottom of the table, two points from safety, also signed striker Paul Onuachu from Belgian side Genk for an undisclosed fee, with the 28-year-old signing a three-and-a-half year contract.
Tottenham finally land Porro
Tottenham Hotspur's lengthy pursuit of Portuguese right-back Pedro Porro reached a successful conclusion on deadline day as the Premier League club sealed a loan deal until the end of the season with an obligation to buy for £40m.
Porro, 23, had been a long-term Spurs target as manager Antonio Conte aims to address a problem area in his team, and after earlier negotiations had fallen through, the London club completed the deal hours before the deadline.
Freeing up space in that area, Tottenham terminated the contract of Matt Doherty, allowing the Republic of Ireland international to join Atletico Madrid on a free transfer, while Djed Spence joined Rennes on loan.
Sabitzer arrives at Man United as Eriksen cover
An injury suffered by Christian Eriksen in the FA Cup win over Reading last weekend, which could rule the Danish midfielder out until the end of the season, forced Manchester United into the market on deadline day, and the club completed the loan signing of Austria international Marcel Sabitzer from Bayern Munich.
Sabitzer, 28, joined Bayern from RB Leipzig in 2021 and has made 54 appearances for the German champions in all competitions.
“Sometimes in life you have to make quick and important decisions. From the moment I heard about this opportunity I knew it was right for me," he said. "I am a competitive player; I want to win and help the club achieve its aims this season.
“I feel that I am at my peak as a player, and that I can contribute a lot of experience and energy to the squad. I am excited to start with my new teammates and manager and to show my qualities to Manchester United fans.”
Nottingham Forest continue to add
Following a summer transfer window that saw Forest sign 23 players, the promoted club were busy again on the winter deadline day, completing loan deals for goalkeeper Keylor Navas from PSG and midfielder Jonjo Shelvey from Newcastle United, and the permanent signing of Felipe from Atletico Madrid for an undisclosed fee.
Leicester City bolstered their defence by signing Harry Souttar from Stoke City, the initial £15m deal rising to £20m with add-ons for the Australian defender; Sassuolo's Hamed Traore joined Bournemouth on loan with an obligation to buy, while the Premier League club also signed Illia Zabarnyi from Dynamo Kyiv; and Crystal Palace completed a £9.7m deal for Naouirou Ahamada from Stuttgart.