Benfica convinced World Cup stars will stay as Schmidt sides with Argentina for the final


Benfica cashed in on Darwin Nunez in June, but coach Roger Schmidt says the team need to keep the likes of Argentina star Enzo Fernandez.

Benfica boss Roger Schmidt has no fears about losing World Cup stars Enzo Fernandez and Goncalo Ramos.

Head coach Schmidt said the youngsters, both 21, and veteran defender Nicolas Otamendi are integral to his plans for success in Lisbon.

Fernandez and Otamendi are part of the Argentina squad preparing for Sunday’s World Cup final against France, where both could be starters.

This put them in the limelight and midfielder Fernandez has been linked with a number of teams, including Liverpool.

Benfica sold striker Darwin Nunez to the Reds in the last transfer window and Schmidt is determined to keep the best of the talent left at the club.

“We are very happy for them and they are happy to play at Benfica. We need players like them,” Schmidt said at a press conference on Friday, according to O Jogo.

“We’re not worried about them leaving. We’re not going to give anyone away, we need them to be champions.”

Benfica are top of the Primeira Liga after collecting 12 wins from their opening 13 games in Schmidt’s first season in charge.

Looking at his Argentina pair, Schmidt said he was “glad they are playing the World Cup final while the home games continue in Portugal.

Benfica have a Taca da Liga match against Moreirense on Saturday in which Portuguese striker Ramos could be involved.

He made his name known to a wide audience by scoring a hat-trick against Switzerland in Portugal’s 6-1 World Cup win in the last 16, coming on for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Looking at the final in Qatar, Schmidt said: “Otamendi played at a fantastic level. I think Goncalo and Enzo have played very well all season.”

“Enzo took the opportunity with Argentina, he didn’t start in the starting line-up. Even Goncalo Ramos scored three goals with Portugal. It shows that he believes in himself a lot.”

German coach Schmidt also acknowledged that he will stand by Argentina in the final out of duty to his players.

“I have all the respect for France, but there are two of our players in Argentina, of course I will support them,” he said. “To be honest, I’m also a [Lionel] Messi fan, for me he’s still the best in the world and he’s shown it.”

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