Benfica have launched a desperate attempt to convince Enzo Fernandez to snub a January transfer to Chelsea.
The Argentina international only joined the Portuguese giants in the summer from River Plate, but his performances at the World Cup placed him firmly in the shop window.
Benfica inserted a hefty release clause in the midfielder’s contract but Chelsea have stolen a march on their rivals by indicating they are willing to pay the £105million it will take to sign the player in January.
According to The Times, Benfica president Rui Costa has been pressed into emergency action amid reports Chelsea are already discussing personal terms with the 21-year-old.
Costa is said to have told Fernandez a move to Stamford Bridge at this stage of his career could prove detrimental to his development and pointed to their current lowly position in the Premier League.
The Blues are currently in sixth place, despite Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Bournemouth which halted a run of three successive defeats, and face an uphill battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Costa is also understood to have alerted Fernandez to the instability at the west London club with the dust still settling on Todd Boehly’s takeover and his decision to replace the popular Thomas Tuchel with Graham Potter in September.
Should Fernandez opt to remain with Benfica, he has been promised a new contract with a further £7 million of performance-related variables.
Were the player who won the award for the best young player at the World Cup accept, his release clause would be increased by €80 million, but Benfica have promised they would sell him for less in the summer.
Manchester United and Liverpool are also said to be heavily interested in signing Fernandez, but Benfica are under no financial obligation to sell given they sold Darwin Nunez to the Merseyside club in the summer for €100 million.
Fernandez was granted an extended break by his club following his exploits in Qatar but is scheduled to make his return on Friday against Braga.
Speaking about his situation earlier this week, he said: ‘I don’t know about my future or proposals, that’s what my representative is taking care of.
‘I don’t want to get into the subject. I am focused on Benfica, we have a game on Friday.’
For more stories like this, check our sport page.
Follow Metro Sport for the latest news on
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.