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Benfica President Rui Costa says he “will not cry” for Enzo Fernandez following the midfielder’s £107m move to Chelsea.
The Blues broke the British transfer record in bringing the 22-year-old to Stamford Bridge on Deadline Day, despite Benfica’s best efforts to keep their star man.
The Portuguese outfit were determined to keep Fernandez at the club until the summer, but Costa says they were powerless as the player forced the move through last month.
Costa ‘will not cry’ for Fernandez
Benfica President Costa developed through the youth ranks at Benfica for several years before making his first team debut in 1990, staying for four years until a move to Fiorentina.
But he returned to Benfica in 2006 and stayed for another two years, later becoming the club’s Director of Football before taking over as President.
As reported by LiveScore, the former Portugal attacker has touched on Benfica honour and pride – and seemingly Fernandez’s lack of such qualities – after the midfielder’s exit.
“Everything was done to ensure that Enzo was not sold,” said Costa. “I have a clear conscience and I am as sad as any Benfica fan. We tried everything. Enzo has always shown a desire not to stay at Benfica.
“As a fan, I no longer wanted Enzo as a player. As president, he could not continue. I decided he had to leave. Commitment to Benfica is not beating your chest. In Arouca [a 3-0 win on Tuesday] we played without Enzo.
“We lost a great player, but I will not cry for a player who did not want to stay at Benfica. I was raised at Benfica, knowing how to honour Benfica.
“Respecting Enzo, he is free to choose and the choice was not to stay at Benfica. At Benfica, there will only be players who are proud to be here.”
Fernandez one of eight new faces at Chelsea
Fernandez was one of eight players signed by Chelsea last month, with the club’s total January transfer window spending reaching £289m.
The list of new faces also includes Mykhailo Mudryk, who joined from Shakhtar Donetsk for £88m, Noni Madueke from PSV Eindhoven for £30.7m, and Benoit Badiashile from Monaco for £35m.
Also moving to Stamford Bridge last month were David Datro Fofana and Andrey Santos, with Joao Felix arriving on loan and Malo Gusto set to join in the summer.
The huge fee for Fernandez has, however, unsurprisingly stolen the headlines. But according to Benfica President Costa, it was not a move that needed to happen in January. He believes Chelsea, and indeed other top clubs, would have still been eager to secure the midfielder’s services in the summer.
“Was Enzo going to lose value until the end of the season at Benfica? No,” added Costa. “We tried to show him that if he stayed at Benfica until the end of the season, Chelsea and others would appear.”
It is unsure whether Fernandez will be registered in time to make his club debut this evening, with Chelsea welcoming neighbours Fulham to Stamford Bridge in the Premier League. The Blues are behind the Cottagers in the table, with the former sitting 10th and the latter currently in 7th.
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