‘I don’t cry for players who don’t want to wear our shirt’: Benfica president Rui Costa SLAMS Enzo Fernandez for his behaviour while trying to force through his £107m move to Chelsea, as he claims Argentina star ‘didn’t give us any chance’
Benfica president Rui Costa has admitted he ‘won’t cry’ for Enzo Fernandez in a scathing account of the midfielder’s conduct during his deadline day move to Chelsea.
The 22-year-old joined the Blues for a British record £107 million after frantic negotiations that saw the deal completed just ‘two minutes’ before the deadline.
Despite Costa’s best efforts, he could not persuade Fernandez to stay with the Eagles until the end of the season, and has now recounted a bitter end to the Argentine star’s time in Portugal.
‘Enzo Fernandez did not want to stay at Benfica. He didn’t give us any chance,’ the president said at a Bwin event this week.
‘I did my best, I’m sad, but I’m not going to cry for a player who didn’t want to stay. When Chelsea arrived, it was really impossible to change his mind.’
Enzo Fernandez joined Chelsea on transfer deadline day for a British record £107m
Benfica president Rui Costa has hit out at the manner of his departure from the club
The 22-year-old had been an important member of the Benfica side before his move
Fernandez is believed to have wanted a move since the World Cup, and defied his club by flying back to Argentina to celebrate the New Year as he pushed for a move to England.
Benfica manager Roger Schmidt had claimed no deal would take place in mid-January, but Chelsea came back in for the midfielder after giving up in their pursuit of Brighton’s Moises Caicedo and deciding they would pay Fernandez’s full release clause.
Costa added: ‘During deadline day we found an agreement to sell Enzo to Chelsea in the summer but he didn’t want to stay.
‘From the moment Enzo realised [Chelsea would pay] the value of the clause it was unrelenting. We tried to insist, but the player did not show any openness to continuing at Benfica.
‘I proposed to Chelsea that he stay until the summer for a lower value, but the player did not want to continue at Benfica – and this is when everything changed.’
Costa went on to explain how unwilling he was to keep an unmotivated player at Benfica, and showed little remorse for Fernandez’ exit.
Fernandez is among the world’s most highly rated young midfielders after his performances for Argentina in Qatar last year
He could give Graham Potter’s Chelsea a big boost after poor league form in recent weeks
‘At that point I said, ‘He can’t play for Benfica anymore, no way,’ he said. ‘I don’t cry for players who don’t want to wear our shirt.
‘I had the hope that Enzo would want to fight for the championship title with us. When I realised that he didn’t want to, I also didn’t want him to wear the Benfica shirt again.
‘A player who even with the possibility of not losing a Euro and with a secure Chelsea contract, does not want to continue, could never stay at Benfica. This player could no longer enter the locker room.’
Despite his off-pitch antics, Fernandez arrives at Stamford Bridge as one of the world’s most highly rated young midfielders, and has the potential to be a leader for the Blues for years to come.
He was named best young player as Argentina won the World Cup in Qatar last year, and could help revive a flagging Chelsea season that has seen them slump to 10th in the league.
Speaking to the club website after arriving, Fernandez said: ‘Chelsea is a big club, it’s a club that is always fighting for trophies and has won the Champions League in recent years. Together, we will look to achieve everything the club wants and take it to the next level.
‘Myself and my family are really happy to be here in London and to be able to enjoy the city. I think it’s a really beautiful city, so we will enjoy it and have a good time.
‘I haven’t yet played against any of my new team-mates and I haven’t yet had the chance to chat with any of them but I do know who they are and I’m looking forward to working with them all!’