Benfica president blasts Enzo Fernandez after Chelsea transfer

James Shearman
  • Updated: 2 Feb 2023 21:05 GMT
  • 3 min read
Enzo Fernandez, Chelsea, 2022/23

Enzo Fernandez has been heavily criticised by Benfica president Rui Costa in the aftermath of his deadline day move to Chelsea.

Benfica wanted to keep Fernandez until the end of the season but the 22-year-old was adamant on going immediately.

''A player who, even with the possibility of not losing a euro and with a secure Chelsea contract, does not want to continue, could never stay at Benfica,'' he told bwin Portugal. ''This player could no longer enter the locker room.

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''I had the hope that Enzo would want to fight for the championship title with us. When I realized that he didn't want to, I also didn't want him to wear the Benfica shirt again.''

Convincing Costa to sanction Fernandez's sale had been Chelsea's biggest issue in negotiations.

But the former AC Milan star eventually caved in to the Blues' £106 million offer.

How Chelsea will line up with Enzo Fernandez

Chelsea's projected line-up with Enzo Fernandez

Chelsea's projected line-up with Enzo Fernandez

Graham Potter has alternated with between a back-three and four since his arrival but he is likely to settle into a 4-2-3-1 to suit his January signings.

Chelsea will stick with Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal after the Spaniard regained his position in the first team before the World Cup, ousting Edouard Mendy in the process.

In defence, the £32m signing of Benoit Badiashile has relegated the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly and Trevoh Chalobah to the bench as he partners the Thiago Silva at centre-back.

Reece James is still Chelsea’s first-choice right-back when fit, while Ben Chilwell will compete with Marc Cucurella and Lewis Hall for the left-back spot.

Fernandez starts in central midfield in place of Jorginho, who has joined Arsenal. N’Golo Kante will partner him as soon as he is fit, with Mateo Kovacic and Denis Zakaria ready to step in.

Mykhailo Mudryk’s €100m signing makes him an obvious choice on the left-wing, while Raheem Sterling takes up his place on the right.

Joao Felix had an impressive debut until his sending off and will return to the lineup in his preferred number 10 role, behind Kai Havertz, who appears to be slowly finding his feet as a striker.