SL Benfica wanted Chelsea superstar Mateo Kovacic to be included in a deal for Enzo Fernandez, as per Portuguese outlet Record (h/t Chelsea-News).
The Blues sealed a deadline-day deal for the Argentina midfielder for a British-record fee of £107 million. Of course, no Chelsea player was included as a makeweight in the deal.
However, Benfica reportedly wanted Kovacic to swap teams, perhaps as a readymade replacement for the 2022 FIFA World Cup winner. The Blues apparently rejected such a proposition.
Apart from Fernandez, the Blues also signed Andrey Santos in midfield in January. Meanwhile, they sold Jorginho to Arsenal on deadline day for a fee of £12 million.
In such a scenario, it would have hardly made sense for them to let Kovacic leave as well. The Croatia international has scored one goal and assisted another in 22 games across competitions this campaign.
The 28-year-old is still in the prime years of his career and his current contract runs until the summer of 2024. If manager Graham Potter has long-term plans for him, it would be smart for the west London giants to plan a new deal for him.
Fernandez's arrival doesn't necessarily mean Kovacic's playing time will be hampered in the short run. Jorginho's exit and the possibility of N'Golo Kante leaving as a free agent this summer means the Blues are still dependent on Kovacic.
Benfica ended the winter transfer window without signing any new players for their senior team. It remains to be seen if they will look to bolster their midfield this summer with the money they raked in by selling Fernandez.
Enzo Fernandez thanks Chelsea's board for completing a January deal with Benfica
Enzo Fernandez thanked Chelsea's owners for their efforts in signing him from Benfica last month.
The Blues chased the former River Plate midfielder for the majority of January and their negotiations with Benfica were drawn out to deadline day. Speaking in his first interview since sealing a move to Stamford Bridge, Fernandez said (h/t Evening Standard):
"I am grateful to Chelsea and its ownership for doing everything they could to make me a part of this project.
“I’m happy and excited to join the Pride of London, to play in the best league in the world and to compete for the biggest trophies. I can’t wait to play in front of our fans and help my team-mates on and off the pitch
He could make his debut for the west London giants in the derby against Fulham on Friday (3 February) at Stamford Bridge.