Premier League side Chelsea completed the signing of Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez from Benfica for a British record 106.8 million pounds ($131.46 million) on Wednesday after a day of complex negotiations between the clubs.
As the clock ticked down on deadline day it appeared a deal might not be reached but a statement from Benfica confirmed that it had been agreed shortly before 2300 GMT on Tuesday.
It said Chelsea would pay the contract release fee for the 22-year-old, who has signed an eight-and-a-half year deal with the London club. It takes Chelsea’s transfer spending in January alone to more than 300 million pounds.
Chelsea were still to officially confirm the completion of the record-breaking deal but according to Sky Sports the paperwork had been submitted on time and before the deadline.
According to media reports, Chelsea will pay the fee in several instalments.
“Sport Lisboa e Benfica – Futebol, SAD informs that it has reached an agreement with Chelsea FC for the sale of all the rights of the player Enzo Fernandez, for an amount of 121,000,000 euros,” a Benfica statement read.
The fee eclipses the 100 million pounds Manchester City paid Aston Villa for England midfielder Jack Grealish in 2021.
Fernandez was instrumental in Argentina’s World Cup-winning campaign in Qatar, breaking into the starting lineup and playing every game, scoring one of the goals in a vital victory over Mexico in the group phase.
He capped off the tournament by bagging the Young Player Award.
Fernandez joined Benfica from Argentine side River Plate in July 2022 and has scored four goals in 29 appearances.
Benfica boss Roger Schmidt was not keen on seeing Fernandez leave but had said their hands would be tied if a club paid the player’s release clause.
Fernandez is Chelsea’s eighth recruit in the mid-season transfer window after the London club signed Mykhailo Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke, Andrey Santos, David Fofana and Malo Gusto while Joao Felix arrived on loan from Atletico Madrid. All of them are 23 or younger.
On Tuesday, Chelsea sold experienced midfielder Jorginho to Premier League leaders Arsenal for 12 million pounds.
Fernandez’s transfer takes Chelsea’s total outlay on players since last May’s takeover by an investment group led by American Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital to around 600 million pounds as they try to rebuild their squad.
All major January deals
* Jorginho to Arsenal from Chelsea: 12 million pounds
* Joao Cancelo to Bayern Munich: Loan
* Marcel Sabitzer to Manchester United: Loan
* Mykhailo Mudryk to Chelsea: 100 million euros
* Anthony Gordon to Newcastle United: 45 million pounds
* Cody Gakpo to Liverpool: 37 million pounds
* Benoit Badiashile to Chelsea: 35 million pounds
* Georginio Rutter to Leeds United: 40 million euros
* Noni Madueke to Chelsea: 35 million euros
* Leandro Trossard to Arsenal: 27 million pounds
* Malo Gusto to Chelsea: 26.3 million pounds
* Dango Ouattara to Bournemouth: 20 million pounds
0035 BENFICA CONFIRM SALE OF FERNANDEZ TO CHELSEA
Chelsea have completed the signing of Argentina’s World Cup-winning midfielder Enzo Fernandez from Benfica for 121 million euros ($131.39 million), the Portuguese club confirmed.
The fee of 106.8 million pounds is a British record, eclipsing the 100 million pounds Manchester City paid Aston Villa for England midfielder Jack Grealish in 2021.
2330 LEICESTER CITY SIGN HARRY SOUTTAR FROM STOKE CITY
Rugged Australia defender Harry Souttar joined Leicester City just before the transfer window closed.
The 24-year-old impressed at the World Cup for Australia and has signed a five-and-a-half year contract with the Premier League club.
2205 LOKONGA JOINS CRYSTAL PALACE ON LOAN FROM ARSENAL
Belgian midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga has joined Crystal Palace on loan until the end of the season from Arsenal.
The 23-year-old has made 39 appearances since joining Arsenal in 2021.
2204 DOHERTY JOINS ATLETICO MADRID
Right back Matt Doherty has joined Atletico Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur on a deal until the end of the season after his Spurs contract was terminated by mutual agreement.
2150 VITINHA JOINS MARSEILLE FROM BRAGA
Olympique de Marseille have reached an agreement to sign Portuguese forward Vitinha from Braga on a four-and-a-half year deal for 32 million euros ($34.76 million).
2149 NOTTINGHAM FOREST SIGN FELIPE FROM ATLETICO MADRID
Brazilian defender Felipe has joined Nottingham Forest from Atletico Madrid on a deal until 2024.
“It was a dream of mine to play in the Premier League and I’m really excited to be part of this wonderful, fast-growing club,” the 33-year-old said.
Forest added two more players to their ranks as the deadline ticked down, with Costa Rica keeper Keylor Navas joining Nottingham Forest on loan from Ligue 1 club Paris St Germain.
Forest also completed the signing of midfielder Jonjo Shelvey from Newcastle.
2100 CRYSTAL PALACE SIGN NAOUIROU AHAMADA FROM STUTTGART
Crystal Palace signed France youth international midfielder Naouirou Ahamada from Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart on a three-and-a-half year deal.
Palace are reported to have paid 12 million euros ($13.03 million)for the 20-year-old.
2051 BOURNEMOUTH SIGN ILLIA ZABARNYI FROM DYNAMO KYIV
Premier League club Bournemouth completed their fifth January signing with a deal for Ukraine central defender Illia Zabarnyi from Dynamo Kyiv.
The 20-year-old international signed for a fee of 22.7 million euros ($24.67 million), according to media reports.
2017 ITALY’S JORGINHO JOINS ARSENAL FROM CHELSEA
Premier League leaders Arsenal completed the signing of Chelsea’s Italian midfielder Jorginho after their pursuit of Brighton and Hove Albion’s Moises Caicedo came to nothing.
The 31-year-old, who won Euro 2020 with Italy and made 143 Premier League appearances for Chelsea, signed an 18-month contract with the transfer fee a reported 12 million pounds ($14.78 million).
1936 SASA LUKIC JOINS FULHAM FROM TORINO
Fulham completed the signing of central midfielder Sasa Lukic from Torino for an undisclosed fee.
Lukic agreed a four-and-a-half-year deal, with an option to extend it by a further 12 months.
“I’m very happy to have signed, and to now be a part of Fulham’s squad,” the 26-year-old said.
1921 PEREZ MOVES ON LOAN TO BETIS FROM LEICESTER
Spanish forward Ayoze Perez has joined La Liga outfit Real Betis on loan for the rest of the season from Leicester City.
1750 LEEDS DEFENDER LLORENTE MOVES TO ROMA
Leeds United defender Diego Llorente has joined Serie A side AS Roma on loan until the end of the season after losing his spot in the back line to Liam Cooper, Robin Koch and new signing Max Wober.
1717 SPURS SEND SPENCE OUT ON LOAN
Tottenham Hotspur right back Djed Spence has joined Ligue 1 side Stade Rennais on loan for the rest of the season, joining fellow Spurs defender Joe Rodon who moved to the French club in August.
Spence, who signed for 12.5 million pounds ($15.40 million) with another 7.5 million pounds in add-ons in July, has made only four substitute appearances in the Premier League.
1631 VILLA RECALL TRAORE
Aston Villa have recalled Bertrand Traore from his loan spell at Istanbul Basaksehir FK.
The club’s Zimbabwe international Marvelous Nakamba and 20-year-old English fellow midfielder Aaron Ramsey have gone out on loan to Luton Town and Middlesbrough respectively.
1440 GHANA’S OPOKU JOINS LEICESTER
Leicester City completed the signing of Ghanaian striker Nathan Opoku from FDM Field Masters Sporting Club. The 21-year-old will join Belgian side OH Leuven on loan for the remainder of the season.
1340 FULHAM TERMINATE ONOMAH CONTRACT
Fulham mutually agreed to terminate the contract of midfielder Josh Onomah, who made only two substitute appearances this season.
AS IT HAPPENED
1125 CANCELO COMPLETES LOAN MOVE TO BAYERN MUNICH
Manchester City full back Joao Cancelo has completed a surprise loan switch to Bayern Munich, who have the option to buy the Portugal international at the end of the season.
1000 ASHBY MOVES TO NEWCASTLE
Scottish right back Harrison Ashby has joined Newcastle United from West Ham United.
“Harrison is a very talented young player with a lot of potential so we are delighted to sign him. He has very good attributes so we are looking forward to working with him in this exciting new chapter of his career,” coach Eddie Howe said.
0945 MONTEIRO JOINS LEEDS
Highly-rated youngster Diogo Monteiro has joined Leeds United on a 3-1/2 year deal from Swiss Super League side Servette, where the defender made his senior debut at the age of 16. Monteiro has also played for Portugal’s youth teams.
0905 ARSENAL’S MARQUINHOS JOINS NORWICH ON LOAN
Arsenal winger Marquinhos, 19, has joined second-tier Championship side Norwich City on loan for the rest of the season. He made six appearances in all competitions since joining Arsenal in June.