July 13, 2024

Benfica president Rui Costa has hit out at Enzo Fernandez for ‘not giving us a chance’ in negotiations over a transfer to Chelsea.

An initial round of talks failed early in the January window, during which Fernandez skipped training to force through a move, but Chelsea reignited their pursuit late in the month and finally got a £106m deal over the line.

Costa has since revealed that Benfica had initially agreed to sell Fernandez to Chelsea at the end of the season but criticised the midfielder for demanding an immediate exit.

“Enzo Fernandez did not want to stay at Benfica. He didn’t give us any chance,” Costa said.

“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.”

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The president continued: “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.

“At that point I said, ‘He can’t play for Benfica anymore, no way’. 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 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.”

Fernandez has trained with his new Chelsea teammates and is expected to be part of the squad to face Fulham on Friday evening.

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