Portuguese side Benfica have lashed out after a report revealed their soft stance over letting Enzo Fernandez go, amid interest from the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United.
Fernandez was exceptional at the World Cup, playing in all seven of Argentina’s games as they won the trophy for the third time. The central midfielder, who had only won three caps for his nation before the tournament in Qatar, is now being tipped for a big-money move away from Benfica.
Liverpool are hot on his trail. Their midfield problems have been well documented and Fernandez is one of the players they are considering to solve them. Other options include Jude Bellingham and Sofyan Amrabat, both of whom impressed at the World Cup just like Fernandez.
Man Utd have also been linked with a move for the 21-year-old. Erik ten Hag landing him could result in a dominant midfield pairing with Brazil star Casemiro.
Earlier this month, there were claims Liverpool had come to a pre-contract agreement with Fernandez. He had apparently agreed to join the Reds, as long as they could sort out a transfer fee with Benfica.
More recently, Portuguese newspaper O Jogo have suggested Liverpool are stepping up their pursuit of the player. While they are unlikely to match his €120million (£105m) release clause, they are supposedly willing to shatter their transfer record to take him to Anfield.
Recently, Benfica President Rui Costa was quoted as saying the following by DAZN in Italy: “We don’t want to give up Enzo Fernandez in January, but we are willing to please the boy in the event of a €120m offer.”
This seemed to be a rather defeatist approach, especially as many outlets have reported Fernandez would not be going anywhere this winter.
Benfica respond to ‘fake’ Rui Costa quotes
And Benfica have now hit back at the quotes, releasing the following statement (via Metro): ‘Benfica clarifies that at no time did the President of the Club, Rui Costa, utter the words that are being circulated in Italy by DAZN.
‘Benfica reiterates its intention to count on the player Enzo Fernandez until the end of the season.’
It looks like the Primeira Liga giants will do all in their power to keep their prized asset, at least until the end of the season.
Keeping Fernandez will be a huge help in their aspirations for the campaign. Benfica sit top of the Primeira Liga table after 13 games, with a five-point lead on Porto. They are also in the Champions League round of 16, where they will come up against Belgian side Club Brugge.
While Fernandez appears set to remain at the Estadio da Luz for the next six months or so, a transfer next summer is likely.
Liverpool have recently found out Bellingham would rather join Real Madrid than them. If the Englishman does go to La Liga, then Fernandez would probably become their top transfer target.
As previously mentioned, Man Utd are also in the mix to sign the World Cup winner. Although, their interest doesn’t seem to be as far along as Liverpool’s.
Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp has outlined four ways in which he can use new signing Cody Gakpo.
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