Chelsea find themselves in a bit of a predicament right now.
Despite winning countless transfer windows, the Blues find themselves 11th in the Premier League. They are just 12 points clear of the relegation zones, while Mauricio Pochettinos’s side are 15 points off a top-four place. It is a poor return on the £1 billion Chelsea have invested since Todd Boehly bought the club.
Having initially found creative ways to get around Financial Fair Play, the London giants are now in a bit of a bind. They need to sell homegrown assets to balance the books. There’s even talk that club captain Reece James may have to be sacrificed. That would be a blow. However, there’s potentially an even bigger blow on the horizon for the Blues.
As exclusively revealed by FootballTransfers, erstwhile club-record signing, and the face of their project, Enzo Fernandez is considering a departure from Stamford Bridge. Our very own Jac Talbot revealed the player’s agents, including his long-time representative Uriel Perez, have begun talks with various clubs to explore potential opportunities for the World Cup winner.
This would be a significant blow to the Chelsea project.
The signing of Fernandez, for a then-British-record £107m in January 2023, was considered a significant coup for the club. The Blues were praised for their aggressive approach in the market with Benfica not wanting to sell their prized-asset. However, the ownership group had set their sights on the former River Plate maestro and made a deal happen. They were lauded for it.
Fernandez hasn’t had the best of times at Stamford Bridge. He arrived under Graham Potter and many claimed the one-time Brighton boss didn’t know how to get the best out of him. Frank Lampard arrived on an interim basis and he too struggled to find a way to allow the Argentine to replicate the form he showed for the national team during the Qatar-based World Cup, a tournament in which the playmaker was given the Young Player Award.
There was hope that the arrival of Pochettino as manager and Moises Caicedo in midfield would help free up Fernandez, but he’s still inconsistent, at best. He’s made 50 appearances for the Blues across all competitions and chipped in with five goals. The No8 hasn’t looked anywhere close to a £100m midfielder. It is hard to blame him for that though.
Are Chelsea to blame?
There’s nothing settled, consistent or reliable about this Chelsea environment, so how are players supposed to develop? Pochettino recently spoke about the midfield duo of Fernandez and Caciedo after the defeat to Everton, saying: “The relationship between them needs to improve of course, between them and individually also.”
“They are young, the expectation is massive when you arrive. Caicedo had one season in Brighton and Enzo after three months in Europe, he was in Benfica before arriving to the Premier League. Arriving not in the best place to perform quick because they need to be part of the solution.”
“They are not the cherry of the cake. When you arrive in a team that is in a building process and you’re young with not too much experience, even if you have good quality and people can see the club paid big money and only for that you need to perform, it is not like this in football. Some people think in this way because they don’t know about football.”
And Fernandez himself acknowledged the need for patience, telling ESPN Argentina: “We need time, it’s a process with a lot of new players. The group came together this year, it isn’t easy to quickly find a good way of playing. “But we are doing all we can to find that style as quickly as possible.”
But it appears as though his patience may be wearing a little thin right now. And, again, you can’t blame him. Chelsea are a shambles right now and he might not want to waste key years of his career at a team perpetually in transition due to their owners being determined to add multiple players every single summer.
Fernandez has limited options if he was to force a move away from Chelsea though. No Premier League is going to be able to afford him and it is unlikely the Blues would do business with a rival. So, let’s have a look at some possible destinations for the 19-cap international.
There was a time in which this would’ve been a no-brainer. Florentino Perez would’ve led the charm offensive to pry Fernandez away from Stamford Bridge to become the latest Galactico. But Real Madrid are reportedly working on a deal to sign Kylian Mbappe.
The prolific French forward would be available on a free but the package to bring him to the Spanish capital is going to be obscene. The LaLiga side invested heavily in the summer to bring in Jude Bellingham so they might not be as flush as they once were.
You also have to wonder if there’s even a need for him. Carlo Ancelotti is blessed with a number of midfield options and adding Fernandez, without a clear plan for him, just doesn’t fit their smart business over the last couple of years.
So maybe that door isn’t as wide open as it once would’ve been for Fernandez.
I’m sure Barca would love to add the World Cup winner to their ranks. However, the club are in limbo right now with Xavi stepping down as manager at the end of the current campaign. It would make no sense to work on deals for players when there’s no real certainty over who is going to be in the dugout next season and what style of play he might be looking to implement.
There’s also a fairly large elephant in the room – Barcelona are skint. Unless Chelsea are going to be fairly flexible with payment terms – which seems unlikely given their current financial situation – then a deal seems difficult right now. You wouldn’t be surprised though, would you? These two clubs always seem to make things work, even if it limits them in the future. So that is one possibility.
Finally, we have Paris Saint-Germain. The Ligue 1 giants failed to replace Marco Verratti this summer so there is a void in their squad that Fernandez could fill. PSG aren’t exactly famed for their long-term planning either so a move for the World Cup winner might be viewed purely as a PR exercise after losing Mbappe – if that does happen.
Having said that though, Fernandez would suit the style at the Parc des Princes and PSG do have the money to fund such a move in a way that would allow Chelsea to save some face.