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Chelsea splash $131.4m for Cup winner

Premier league club spends big to lift sagging morale
Enzo Fernandez
Enzo Fernandez

AP/PTI   |   London   |   Published 02.02.23, 05:51 AM

Chelsea completed another staggering spending spree by their new American ownership — more than $350 million this time — by signing Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez for a British-record fee on the final day of the January transfer window.

A day of negotiations between Benfica and Chelsea’s co-owners ended with the Premier League club agreeing to pay the release clause of £106.7 million ($131.4 million) in the 22-year-old World Cup winner’s contract. The Portuguese club announced the transfer in a statement early on Wednesday.


The fee eclipsed the £100 million (then $139 million) Manchester City paid Aston Villa for England international Jack Grealish in 2021.

Chelsea have spent more this month than every club in the top leagues in Spain, Italy, Germany and France combined. And following a big outlay in Europe’s summer transfer window, Chelsea have splashed out around $630 million in the first two windows overseen by the new ownership — fronted by Todd Boehly — since the purchase of the club for $2.5 billion in May.

Chelsea signed eight players in January and handed most of them long contracts — as much as eight and half years for Fernandez, for example — to allow the club to spread the cost of the signings over the length of the deals and comply with financial fair play regulations. Fernandez now is also the costliest Argentine player ever

Fernandez only joined Benfica from Argentine club River Plate in August, for a reported fee of around $10 million, but his profile was boosted by his World Cup performances after breaking into Argentina’s team in the group stage and starting every game through to the final. He was voted the best young player at the tournament.

Chelsea will hope their latest spending spree — which includes bringing in Ukraine winger Mykhailo Mudryk in a deal worth around $108 million and France centre back Benoit Badiashile for $40 million — helps the team climb the Premier League standings in a late attempt to qualify for the Champions League. The team are in 10th place, 10 points off the top four.

According to British media reports, Hakim Ziyech’s deadline day move to PSG collapsed after Chelsea sent the wrong transfer documents three times. The first document included a mistake, the second wasn’t signed and the third was submitted too late. Football data website Transfermarkt reported that English teams paid out about $831m, not including loan payments, while the other four leading leagues spent about $263m.

Midfield boost

Italy international Jorginho has cost Arsenal a reported £12 million ($14.75 million) in a move that gives the league leaders an extra option in midfield in their bid to win a first top-flight title since 2004.

Arsenal made a late move in the transfer window to strengthen their central-midfield department, with Mohamed Elneny — a backup to first-choice holding midfielder Thomas Partey — ruled out for a lengthy period because of injury. 

Manchester United reacted quickly after Christian Eriksen was ruled out Tuesday for as much as three months with an ankle injury by signing fellow midfielder Marcel Sabitzer on loan from Bayern Munich.

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