Chelsea have signed Benfica’s Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez for a British record 121m euro (£107m) transfer fee.
The deal eclipses the £100m Manchester City paid for Jack Grealish in 2021.
Fernandez, who only joined Benfica for a reported £10m in August, was named young player of the tournament during Argentina’s World Cup triumph in Qatar.
The 22-year-old’s arrival takes Chelsea’s January spending to £289m, according to transfer website Transfermarkt.
He has signed an eight-and-a-half year contract at Stamford Bridge.
The deal follows an outlay of £270m in the summer – a record for a British club in the summer window – taking their total spend under new American owner Todd Boehly to more than £550m on 17 new players.
It is the joint-sixth most expensive signing of all-time, equalling the 120m euros Barcelona paid for France forward Antoine Griezmann in 2019.
Fernandez, signed by Benfica from Argentine side River Plate, has scored four goals in 29 appearances for the Primeira Liga side.
Benfica confirmed on Tuesday night that River Plate will earn 25% of the transfer fee, around 30m euros.
He scored once during the World Cup, netting Argentina’s second goal in their 2-0 group-stage win over Mexico.
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“The spending now from Chelsea is a staggering, eye watering amount of money,” said BBC Radio 5 Live senior football reporter Ian Dennis.
“What an excellent bit of business from Benfica, who held their nerve because Chelsea have pursued him throughout the whole window. Bit of brinkmanship and they’ve got their rewards.”
European football expert Guillem Balague added: “He didn’t start the World Cup but he was absolutely crucial to Argentina winning it. It is down to his reading of the game.
“You look at what he did during the World Cup and you think ‘really? Is that 121m euros?’ but the answer is no – you didn’t see the full picture. He is much more than that.
“He can play in any place in the midfield. He can be a holding midfielder, on the right, on the left, the stats show he increases the quality on the move, he gives the last pass and the one before last – and he’s been scoring as well.
“It’s not easy to find that kind of player that when the game goes into a really high intensity he still displays good football.”
Earlier in January, Benfica accused Chelsea of trying to unsettle the midfielder, with the Portuguese side’s manager Roger Schmidt declaring their pursuit “closed”.
Chelsea have signed Noni Madueke, Mykhailo Mudryk, David Datro Fofana, Andrey Santos, Benoit Badiashile and Malo Gusto on permanent deals in January.
They have also brought in Joao Felix on loan from Atletico Madrid.
However, under Uefa rules, Chelsea will only be allowed to register three of their January signings to their Champions League squad, regardless of age, with the club set to face Borussia Dortmund in the last 16 first leg on 15 February.
The Blues are 10th in the Premier League, 10 points adrift of the competition’s Champions League places after 20 matches.
The club was bought for £4.25bn by a consortium led by American investor Todd Boehly last May, after previous owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned over his links to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
World’s top transfer fees
Neymar [Barcelona – Paris St-Germain] £200m in 2017
Kylian Mbappe [Monaco – Paris St-Germain] £166m in 2017
Philippe Coutinho [Liverpool – Barcelona] £142m in 2018
Ousmane Dembele [Borussia Dortmund – Barcelona] total fee of £135m in 2017
Joao Felix [Benfica – Atletico Madrid] £113m in 2019
Antoine Griezmann [Atletico Madrid to Barcelona] £107m in 2019
Enzo Fernandez [Benfica to Chelsea] £107m in 2023
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