AC Milan’s Enzo Fernandez mistake that cost them €100m

Stuart Telford
Enzo Fernandez, Chelsea, 2022/23
© ProShots

AC Milan reportedly baulked at paying River Plater €12 million for Enzo Fernandez. Eighteen months later Benfica sold him to Chelsea for 10 times that.

Fernandez’s €121m move to Chelsea from Benfica in January was a British record transfer, the Blues agreeing to surpass the release clause in his contract by €1m.

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Fernandez had recently been a constituent part of a Lionel Messi-led Argentina who lifted the World Cup in Qatar in December, and his stock could hardly have been higher.

He has struggled to hit the same heights with Chelsea this season – although very few Blues have impressed with the team in ninth in the Premier League – but is still valued at €58.8m by FootballTransfers’ in-house algorithm, down from a high of €82.7m.

‘Sliding Doors moment’

But that loss wouldn’t have been Milan’s to worry about had they bought him when they had the chance in April 2022, three months before he moved to Benfica.

“Obviously it’s not just Fernandez’s fault, on the contrary,” reports TuttoMercatoWeb’s Andrea Losapio. “There was a Sliding Doors moment with AC Milan, who had been asked for €12 million. [They said] ‘no way’.”

Benfica paid €44.3m for his services that July, so River will have been laughing all the way to the bank too, before the Portuguese side then made their €76.7m profit.

Milan instead spent €36.5m on Brugges’ Belgium midfielder Charles de Ketelaere that summer, but he could only muster one assist across 40 appearances in his first season, and has since been loaned out to Atalanta.

Fernandez may not have been able to match his attacking output from the Word Cup at Chelsea (a goal and an assist from his seven games, five of which were starts), but he is in the highest third percentile for progressive passes among midfielders Europe-wide, with an average of nine per game.

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