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‘Collapse’: Chelsea, Benfica fail to agree Enzo Fernández deal after two days of talks — reports

Back to the drawing board?

Argentina v France: Final - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Maja Hitij - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

After torrential, record-breaking rains and flooding to greet the new year, much of California is currently in the throes of a “bomb cyclone”, which sounds pretty scary and not exactly the way you’d want to start 2023. And unfortunately for my fellow Californios in charge over at Stamford Bridge, the first few days of January haven’t been too kind to them either.

On the pitch, Chelsea dropped two more points to sink further into midtable while at the negotiating table, we have apparently struck out harder than the Gashouse Gorillas on a Bugs Bunny slowball.

According to multiple reports, including César Luis Menlo and Fabrizio Romano — both claiming an exclusive, amusingly — talks have “collapsed” between Chelsea and Benfica after two days. Which means we’re back to where we started from: release clause or bust!

Benfica were initially said to not be willing to negotiate at all, but had relented ... perhaps after a bit too much champagne on New Year’s Eve. But they have come to their senses since, and were not exactly keen on Chelsea’s offers, which apparently never came close to the €120m release clause. Instead, it appears that we offered “only” €85m (and perhaps tried to sweeten the deal with some interesting trades as well, like including Hakim Ziyech).

If that’s true, it’s a) not at all surprising that Benfica would walk away and b) probably a wise move in terms of finances on our part. FFP may be a joke, but the budget is not actually unlimited — and presumably we will be back in Europe/Champions League at some point in the near future (he said without much real hope given our current state of affairs).

Obviously, there’s still almost the entire month left to go in the transfer window, so there’s plenty of time to reconsider, reattempt, and restructure a potential deal. But for now, it looks like it’s back to the drawing board for us.

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