Chelsea break British transfer record with €107m for Fernandez as Jan spending tops £300m

February 1 – Chelsea have completed their mind-boggling mid-season spending spree by smashing the British record after agreeing a record €121 million (£107 million) deal for Benfica’s Argentina World Cup-winning midfielder Enzo Fernandez.

As the clock ticked down on deadline day it appeared a deal might not be reached but a statement from Benfica confirmed that it had been agreed shortly before 2300 GMT on Tuesday.

It said Chelsea would pay the contract release fee for the 22-year-old, who bagged the Young Player Award at the World Cup and has signed an eight-and-a-half year deal.

“Sport Lisboa e Benfica – Futebol, SAD informs that it has reached an agreement with Chelsea FC for the sale of all the rights of the player Enzo Fernandez, for an amount of €121,000,000,” a Benfica statement read.

The staggering fee eclipses the £100 million Manchester City paid Aston Villa for England midfielder Jack Grealish in 2021 and takes Chelsea’s eye-watering – some might suggest obscene – spending in January alone to almost £300 million.

Fernandez is Chelsea’s eighth recruit in the winter window after the London club signed Mykhailo Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke, Andrey Santos, David Fofana and Malo Gusto while Joao Felix arrived on loan from Atletico Madrid.

It means Chelsea’s total outlay on players since last May’s takeover by private equity money led by American Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital to around £600 million.

To put Chelsea’s unprecedented spending into perspective, the club spent more on gross transfer expenditure in January than the combined total of every club in the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1, according to the Sports Business Group at Deloitte.

With the club lying a mid-table 10th in the Premier League, it smacks of a scattergun approach to try and qualify for the lucrative Champions League – or win this season’s competition.

But manager Graham Potter, not used to dealing with oversized squads, now has the task of trying to keep virtually a whole team of expensive new signings happy in a desperate bid to surge up the table.

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