Benfica manager Roger Schmidt has slammed Chelsea over the club’s ‘disrespectful’ attempts to sign Enzo Fernandez.
Chelsea have been in negotiations with Benfica over a deal for the midfielder in a transfer that could reach a club-record fee.
Fernandez was named as the Best Young Player at the 2022 World Cup, following his role in Argentina’s triumphant campaign in Qatar. The 21-year-old is thought to be keen on a move to the Premier League, though Benfica have insisted he will not be sold for less than his €120m (£105.5m) release clause.
Schmidt has now criticised Chelsea for unsettling Fernandez and warned that the midfielder will be punished following an absence from training.
“First of all, Enzo is a very good boy and a fantastic football player. We like him a lot and of course we want him to stay at Benfica.
“The situation for him is not so easy because he played at the World Cup, he became world champion and he got offers. There’s a lot of money on the table and in this situation, as a young player, you think about that. [It can] confuse you a little.
“I think that everybody can understand but nevertheless he’s a very good boy. He was not there last week. He had no permission to go to Argentina. He missed training so that is not acceptable. That’s why it will have consequences.”
Chelsea latest offer of around €85m has been turned down, despite an initial verbal agreement to meet Fernandez’s asking price.
Schmidt reiterated that Benfica do not want to sell Fernandez this month, and described Chelsea’s attempts to sign the player as ‘disrespectful’ and damaging to the clubs’ relationship.
“Nobody wants to sell him at this club. Everybody knows he has a clause in his contract and, of course, if the player wants to leave and somebody comes and pays the clause, we cannot work against that so then maybe we will lose the player.
“There’s a club who wants our player. They know we don’t want to sell the player, they tried to get the player on their side and they know that they can only get this player when they pay the clause so it’s a very clear situation what the club who wants to buy Enzo is doing.
“It’s disrespectful against all of us, against Benfica, and I cannot accept what they are doing. So to make the player crazy, and then to pretend they can pay the clause and later they want to negotiate, it’s not what I understand about a good relationship between clubs who maybe want to discuss about the player.”
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