‘He didn’t do it right’: Benfica boss Roger Schmidt has confirmed £112m Chelsea target Enzo Fernandez was left out of Benfica’s victory over Portimonense after he angered the club by returning to Argentina for New Year celebration
- Enzo Fernandez was left out of Benfica’s squad for the game against Portimonense
- The midfielder – who became world famous in Qatar – is subject to bids
- Roger Schmidt said he ‘didn’t do the right thing’ missing a week of training
- Benfica boss previously claimed Chelsea were driving the player ‘crazy’
Benfica boss Roger Schmidt has revealed that Enzo Fernandez has been left out of his squad for Friday night’s match against Portimonense after the Argentine missed training on his return to Argentina to celebrate the New Year.
Fernandez, 21, is the subject of intense interest at Chelsea and has told Benfica on several occasions that he wants to leave the club.
Chelsea saw a bid worth £112m – £6m more than his release clause – rejected as it was structured to be paid in three installments totaling £37.3m each over three years.
Enzo Fernandez was left out of the squad for the club’s home fixture against Portimonense
He asked not to play against Braga last weekend before being convinced to do so, with Benfica slumping to their first Liga Portugal defeat of the season.
Following that defeat, Fernandez refused the club’s orders and returned to Argentina to bring in the New Year, ensuring he missed a large part of the club’s preparations for this weekend’s fixture.
Speaking after his side’s 1-0 victory over Portimonense, which extended their lead at the top to six points, Schmidt publicly declared the player wrong but left the door open for his smooth return to the fold.
Roger Schmidt publicly criticized Fernandez for returning to Argentina – but left the door open for him to return to jail
‘Now you have a clean slate. He is our player, we rely on him and we need him to be a champion,’ he said.
‘He didn’t do the right thing, that’s why he’s not in the team now.’
Schmidt’s comments come just days after he accused Chelsea of ’disrespect’ in their pursuit of Fernandez.
The west London club are looking to rebuild their squad under Graham Potter after a difficult few months since his arrival. They have already secured the £35m signing of defender Benoit Badiashile from Monaco on a seven-and-a-half-year deal.
While striker David Fofana has also joined from Molde and the club have completed a deal for midfielder Andrey Santos from Vasco da Gama.
Fernandez (back, center right) returns home to Argentina to bring in the New Year after telling Benfica he wants to leave the club
However, Fernandez clearly remains a target – although a deal now looks unlikely given the reluctance to pay his £106m release clause in full.
‘We don’t want to sell Enzo. Not me, not the president, nobody,’ Schmidt said.
‘We know, everyone knows, he has a clause in his contract and if the player wants to leave and someone comes and pays the clause, of course we can’t fight that. Then we might lose a player.
Benfica rejected Chelsea’s offer of £112m – to be paid in three-year instalments
‘There is a club that wants our player. They know we don’t want to sell the player. They tried to get the player on their side and they know they can only get this player if they pay the clause.
‘So it’s a very clear situation. What the club that wants to buy Enzo is doing is disrespectful to all of us, against Benfica and I cannot accept it.
‘For the player to go crazy, pretend they can pay the clause and then want to negotiate, this is not what I understand about a good relationship between clubs who might want to talk about a player. So that’s what I can say about Enzo’s entire topic.’
Chelsea have endured a difficult few weeks since domestic football returned following the end of the World Cup.
The restart started well for them, beating Bournemouth 2-0 at home on December 27 but injuries and a seeming uncertainty over how they should play contributed to a disappointing 1-1 draw in Nottingham Forest before they lost at home to Manchester City 1-0 on Thursday night.
Graham Potter’s side currently sit 10 points outside the top four in 10th, and a further 19 points off the pace set by leaders Arsenal.
Benoit Badiashile was in attendance for Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester City on Thursday night