Chelsea to follow Enzo Fernandez coup with huge raid for Premier League talisman

England trio Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden

Chelsea will continue to persist with a certain type of deal for Enzo Fernandez, though TEAMtalk has learned the Argentine isn’t the only £100m+ midfielder earmarked for a move to Stamford Bridge.

The Blues are on a mission in the market and show no signs of letting up any time soon. Chelsea forked out around £280m last summer, though that appears to be just the tip of the iceberg for Todd Boehly and co.

Indeed, a move for Christopher Nkunku has been wrapped up, with he Frenchman due to arrive in London in June.

Deals for youngsters David Datro Fofana and Andrey Santos have both been secured too. Fofana will arrive at Stamford Bridge from Molde today, while Brazilian Santos was recently pictured in London ahead of applying the finishing touches to his move.

French centre-half Benoit Badiashile is also expected to join from Monaco, though their biggest catch this month looks certain to be Enzo Fernandez.

The 21-year-old only joined Benfica last summer, though is already primed for another step-up in class.

The Argentine World Cup winner is a force of nature in the engine room and the Blues have held direct discussions with Benfica.

Fernandez’s release clause of €120m (approx. £106m) has deterred fellow suitors Man Utd and Liverpool from acting. However, Chelsea aren’t so shy, and are even prepared to pay over the odds as long as the deal is structured in their favour.

In other words, they want to pay Benfica in instalments and according to our transfer insider, Graeme Bailey, the Blues have learned lessons from past mistakes.

Chelsea have been guilty of dithering in the past, though their decisive action in the market over the last six months is proof they’ll no longer repeat those mistakes.

We understand the Blues will continue to persist with their instalments approach for Fernandez. He’s already agreed personal terms with Chelsea, thus leaving the deal hinging on whether Benfica are receptive to Chelsea’s payment structure.

England ace to complete dream midfield pairing?

But while Fernandez would certainly be an eye-catching coup, Bailey also revealed Chelsea will push for another midfield splash next summer – that of West Ham’s Declan Rice.

The England ace is one of the Premier League’s finest midfielders and a partnership with Fernandez would be a formidable one indeed.

The Athletic reported in late-December the Hammers are resigned to losing Rice at season’s end. Like Fernandez, a deal could cost upwards of £100m.

“Chelsea have learned their lessons in the transfer market it is clear,” said Bailey. “They took far too long deliberating over Aurelien Tchouameni in 2021 and they are keen not repeat that.

“We have seen that the deal for Christopher Nkunku and also in their attempts for Josko Gvardiol. Now we are seeing it with Enzo Fernandez. They have made up their mind and are now working hard to get the deal done.

“The player wants to move, terms are all but agreed but now Chelsea need to come to agreement with Benfica as they are not looking to pay his release clause.

“£100m+ is a lot for a club to pay in one go, so Chelsea hope offering more but over instalments will get the deal done.

“With a deal for Benoit Badiashile almost done, Chelsea really are planning ahead and building for the future.

“We expect some huge investments in the summer with the likes of Declan Rice in their sights, but January now also looks like it will be a busy period.”

Rice has long been linked with Chelsea in the event he does leave West Ham due to his past.

The midfielder was on the Blues’ books between 2006-2014 and is close friends with Mason Mount.

What’s more, Jorginho is expected to depart at season’s end and N’Golo Kante still hasn’t signed a contract extension. Kante’s deal is also up in the summer, though the signs in his regard look more positive than for Jorginho.

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