Premier League • England

Transfer Gossip: Chelsea reconstruct terms of midfield signing with favourable ‘breakthrough’ expected soon; Southampton close to first part of triple arrival

Julian Alvarez, Enzo Fernandez and Alexis Mac Allister

Chelsea are changing the terms of their bid for their top midfield target and expect to reach a breakthrough in the coming days, while Southampton are close to their first signing of the Nathan Jones era – all in Wednesday’s transfer gossip.


Enzo Fernandez remains Chelsea’s top midfield target, but the latest update suggests they won’t be paying his release clause.

Fernandez has risen to prominence over the past few months, having joined Benfica in the summer before starring for Argentina in their World Cup win over the winter.

Although his Benfica career has only just got going, Fernandez has already become the subject of links with his next transfer.

Liverpool were linked as they aim to upgrade their midfield, but Chelsea have now established themselves as the most likely bidders for the 21-year-old.

Reports have suggested Fernandez would be willing to agree to a move to Chelsea, who could sign him by activating the €120million (£105.7million) release clause in his contract.

There have even been claims they could submit a package worth even more than his exit clause if Benfica allow them to pay in instalments.

However, an update from the Daily Telegraph has revealed they have little intention of paying a nine-figure sum.

Indeed, using Fernandez’s exit clause to sign him would break the British transfer record. Chelsea have made Fernandez their top target in midfield, but they don’t want to make that kind of commitment.

That said, the Telegraph claims Chelsea are “hopeful” there will be a compromise with Benfica. In fact, they are awaiting a “breakthrough” over the next few days.

Enzo Fernandez ‘pushing hard’ for transfer

For his part, Fernandez is “pushing hard” for the move to Stamford Bridge. However, claims that he has skipped Benfica training to make his stance clear have been denied.

According to the report, Benfica are open to cashing in on him six months after his arrival. They would make a major profit by doing so. Despite this, they are holding out for the payment of his release clause, rather than a negotiated price.

Other options Chelsea are considering include West Ham’s Declan Rice, Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister (another member of the successful Argentina squad) and Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham.

If they have to wait until the summer for the right deal, they will. But preferably, they want to add a midfielder this month.

Jorginho and N’Golo Kante have both entered the final six months of their contracts. Each now aged 31, Chelsea might have to evolve their department soon.

They also have Denis Zakaria on loan from Juventus this season, but he hasn’t had many opportunities to play.

Therefore, they might be expecting to invest in their midfield in 2023. Hope remains that they can get Fernandez on favourable terms.


Southampton are closing in on their first signing of the Nathan Jones era – and could quickly follow it up with two more.

Currently bottom of the Premier League, Southampton need to shake things up if they are to avoid relegation. They have already replaced manager Ralph Hasenhuttl with Jones. Now, they are looking to adjust their playing squad.

According to The Sun, a deal is “close” for them to sign Mislav Orsic from Dinamo Zagreb.

The attacking midfielder will cost them a transfer fee of around £7.5million. After featuring for Croatia at the World Cup, he could finally get his chance to play in the Premier League.

English sides already know what he is capable of. Orsic scored a hat-trick in the Europa League against Tottenham back in 2020, before netting against West Ham in the same competition last season and against Chelsea in the Champions League this term.

Now, the 30-year-old could be lining up against those kind of clubs on a regular basis for Southampton.

After they bring him in, Saints will turn their attention to Lorient striker Terem Moffi and Racing Club midfielder Carlos Alcaraz.

Talks are already underway for them to sign Moffi, although they are keeping Udinese’s Beto in mind as an alternative.

As for Alcaraz, they are willing to offer £12million to beat the likes of Inter Milan and Benfica to a deal.


It seems to be third time lucky for Brentford in their pursuit of German attacking midfielder, Kevin Schade.

According to The Times, Schade has passed a medical with the Premier League club, who are now “close” to getting his signing over the line.

The report reminds that Brentford failed with two bids for Schade in the summer. The last of the pair would have been worth around £17million.

Now, they have raised the stakes in January, having put £22million on the table to his current club Freiburg.

Still only 21 years old, Schade progressed from Freiburg’s youth ranks into the first team. He has scored six goals from 36 games for them so far and has four goals from five caps to his name for the Germany under-21 national team.

Brentford are enjoying a positive second season in the Premier League so far. Most recently, they beat Liverpool in a 3-1 triumph. As a result, they are in the top half of the Premier League.

As they look to consolidate their status in the top flight, the Bees are searching for signings who can help them grow their project.

It appears that Schade – either a winger or a number 10 – should be someone Thomas Frank can call upon soon.