Benfica are reportedly set to sign a replacement for Enzo Fernandez as the Argentina World Cup star edges towards a January move to Chelsea.
Chelsea entered the race to sign Fernandez this week and have informed the midfielder’s representatives – and Benfica president Rui Costa – that they are ready to pay the 21-year-old star’s huge €120m (£106m) release clause.
Manchester United and Liverpool were eager to sign Fernandez following his country’s World Cup success in Qatar and both clubs held talks with Portuguese side Benfica over a move but they became reluctant due to his hefty price tag.
Chelsea are already discussing personal terms with Fernandez while Benfica manager Roger Schmidt has hinted that the player will soon be departing.
It has now emerged that Benfica are on the verge of signing a replacement for Fernandez, with the club engaged in talks over a move for Maximo Perrone.
Perrone, another Argentine, who is thought to be a similar style of player to Fernandez, turns 20 in January and plays for Velez Sarsfield in Argentina.
Manchester City and Newcastle United have been previously interested in signing Perrone and he has also been linked with Wolves.
According to Portuguese outlet O Jogo, Benfica could be set to sign him for even less than his release clause, which is believed to be around $10m (£8.3m).
Meanwhile, Benfica boss Schmidt seems adamant that Fernandez is leaving the club as he told reporters on Thursday: ‘We all know what football is like.
‘These young people have opportunities, and it’s not just about Enzo. If they have opportunities, they have to make decisions, and I respect them.
‘I can advise them, but they only have one career. If I can convince them or influence them in a certain way, I try to do it, but I accept their decisions’.