Enzo Fernandez set for Benfica return: ‘Now we can focus on football’


Enzo Fernandez is set to rejoin his Benfica team-mates this weekend after being left out of their team on Friday.

Roger Schmidt is looking forward to having Enzo Fernandez back in training after declaring the Benfica midfielder had a “clean slate” after missing Friday’s Primeira Liga win.

Fernandez was one of the stars of Argentina’s success at the World Cup in Qatar, attracting interest from a number of big clubs.

Chelsea were thought to have been close to signing him at one stage this week, but the stumbling block was the Blues’ reported refusal to meet the 21-year-old’s release clause, which was said to be a whopping £106m (€120m).

Schmidt said Chelsea’s approach showed a “lack of respect” for his club, suggesting the Premier League side were trying to “drive the players crazy” and Fernandez was absent from his Benfica squad against Portimonense.

But with Schmidt also adamant Benfica did not want to sell Fernandez, the World Cup winner looks set to continue his career in Portugal from Saturday.

After Benfica’s 1-0 win, the coach said: “We have a clean sheet today.

“I made it clear in the press conference yesterday that Enzo has not been doing well in the last week. That’s why he was not in the team.

“But tomorrow I will be very happy to see him back in training. He is our player. I count on him to win games and titles. We need him to be a champion. Now we can focus on football.”

Fernandez sat out last week’s 3-0 defeat at Braga – Benfica’s first loss of the season – but missed his first home game since the World Cup.

He therefore did not enjoy the same honor as Benfica and Argentina team-mate Nicolas Otamendi on Friday.

“[The honor] was very important to me and my family,” Otamendi said in an interview with Benfica TV.

“Enzo couldn’t be there, but he will also have his tribute because he is also part of what we [Argentina] have achieved as a team.

“It’s a tribute in our stadium, to our fans, that I will remember for the rest of my life because I won a very important title in my career and they are obviously part of that title.”

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