Watch: Ornstein names Chelsea’s five alternatives to Enzo Fernandez
Chelsea are continuing to pursue Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez in the January transfer window, but they’re also looking at other options, according to journalist David Ornstein.
Fernandez has emerged as the top option for Graham Potter’s Blues as they look to a future without N’Golo Kante and Jorginho, both of whom are out of contract in the summer.
The 21-year-old has emerged as a potentially elite-level player this season. He’s been outstanding for Primeira Liga table-toppers Benfica and played a vital role in Argentina lifting the World Cup, playing every minutes of the knockout and being named as the young player of the tournament.
According to reports, Chelsea are seriously considering paying Fernandez’s €120million release clause – a fee that would make him the most expensive player in Premier League history.
“Chelsea are on it. Chelsea are really pushing for Enzo, he’s a concrete target,” said Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano in his YouTube update on Sunday.
“We know they are having concrete discussions with Benfica. They didn’t have any talks on Saturday but, in the next hours and in the next days, there are going to be key moments.
“The deal is advanced. It’s really advanced because Chelsea and Benfica are speaking, thanks also to the agents of the player, about the structure of the deal.”
The Athletic’s football correspondent David Ornstein, one of the most respected names in the transfer industry, appeared on NBC Sports ahead of Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest to discuss the potential transfer.
Ornstein was less convinced that a deal will definitely take place.
“There’s no doubt that they are focusing on Enzo Fernandez, but not at all costs,” said Ornstein.
“Reports that they have agreed or are on the verge are agreeing a deal – is my understanding – are not quite accurate. That’s not to say that they won’t. It’s to say that they won’t be held to ransom. They’re going to be disciplined in this situation.
“They’re only going to pay what they’re comfortable with. So when you see the release clause reported at €127million and you see suggestions that Chelsea are going to pay that, or pay even more – we’ve got to be careful there, because Chelsea will pay what they feel is right.
“If they get the right value in this market, they’ll do it. If they have to wait until the summer, they’ll do it then. If they have to walk away, they’ll walk away. And they do have other options, I think that’s important to stress.
“Chelsea, I would expect to sign at least one midfielder, whether it’s now or in the summer.”
The reporter had begun his interview by naming the other players that Chelsea are considering to bolster Potter’s options in midfield.
“They love Jude Bellingham as well,” said Ornstein.
“They’ve got other options too – the likes of Declan Rice, Alexis Mac Allister, Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia.”
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