Premier League • England

Boehly in heated clash over next Chelsea midfield target after Fernandez, as Potter explains Jorginho sale to Arsenal

Todd Boehly, September 2022

Todd Boehly tried for Chelsea to sign another midfielder at the same time they were negotiating for Enzo Fernandez, but things went horribly wrong, a report has revealed.

The signing of Fernandez from Benfica capped off another busy transfer window for Chelsea under Boehly’s ownership. They brought in the World Cup winner from Benfica for a British record transfer fee.

It is the culmination of the first phase of Chelsea’s midfield evolution in 2023. There were doubts going into the January transfer window about the futures of Jorginho and N’Golo Kante.

Kante ended up staying put, but will be out of contract at the end of the season. Meanwhile, Jorginho made the move to London rivals Arsenal.

Chelsea will be hoping that Fernandez can shine in their midfield for years to come. But they might want to invest in another new arrival there in the summer.

Now, it has emerged that they were trying to do so already on deadline day. According to the New York Times, Chelsea were in negotiations for Sofyan Amrabat.

The Fiorentina midfielder gave a good account of himself at the World Cup, like Fernandez. The report claims that Boehly therefore entered negotiations with Fiorentina for Amrabat while co-owner Behdad Eghbali oversaw the Fernandez deal.

However, while Chelsea have got their way with a lot of transfers in recent months, Boehly’s attempts to land Amrabat failed dramatically.

Boehly botches Amrabat attempt

According to the report, Chelsea asked Fiorentina for Amrabat on loan. The Serie A side, though, were only interested in a permanent sale for a significant fee.

Boehly told Fiorentina he felt their demands for an eight-figure transfer fee were “unreasonable”. But the Italian club’s officials responded by making it clear how Chelsea wouldn’t have liked being approached for one of their key players below market value.

The clash concluded with the conversation ending “abruptly”, according to the report.

It remains to be seen if Chelsea will be back in for Amrabat in the summer. If they do still want him, they will have to repair some bridges with Fiorentina.

Of course, Benfica weren’t initially happy with them about their pursuit of Fernandez, and they still ended up with the Argentina international. Therefore, it won’t be impossible for Chelsea to get Amrabat later this year, but they probably won’t be Fiorentina’s first choice to sell to.

And the Morocco star has plenty of other admirers who could meet La Viola’s demands. He has, for example, been linked with Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

Potter welcomes Fernandez and says farewell to Jorginho

Graham Potter during a training session at Cobham Training Centre, Surrey

In the meantime, Graham Potter will have to get Fernandez up to speed.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday about his new signing, the Chelsea head coach said: “I’m very pleased because we’ve got a fantastic player and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Asked if he could make his debut against Fulham on Friday night, Potter replied: “We’ll see. We’ve got to go through the paperwork and he needs to get clearance and all that.

“I’ve spoken to him. My Spanish isn’t great and his English isn’t great, so we needed a translator, but we’ll get there. He is an impressive young man and I’m really excited to work with him.”

Potter also opened up on his side of the story in relation to Jorginho’s departure from the club.

He was due to become a free agent at the end of the season, but seeing him move on a permanent transfer to Arsenal was a surprise at first.

Explaining what happened, Potter said: “For the four months I worked with him, he was fantastic. A great person and when you look at his service to the club, he’s been brilliant with what he achieved.

“Sometimes you have to make a decision as a football club, with his contract situation, and the opportunity to secure something more for his family, it was one of those that was a win, win, win.

“From my perspective, I wish him well. He’s a top professional and a top person.”

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