Chelsea, Benfica in deadlock over Enzo Fernandez transfer - sources

Why Enzo Fernandez would be a 'game-changer' for Chelsea (1:26)

Julien Laurens and Stewart Robson discuss reports linking Chelsea with a move for Benfica's Enzo Fernandez. (1:26)

Chelsea and Benfica remain locked in talks over what could turn into a British record transfer fee for Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez, sources have told ESPN.

The 21-year-old is keen on a move to Stamford Bridge and Benfica are willing to agree to the move if their €120 million release clause is met in full.

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

Negotiations are ongoing amid conflicting messages from sources close to both clubs. Those close to Benfica suggest Chelsea have indicated they could pay up to €127m, with the extra money designed to entice the Portuguese club into accepting a series of instalments over several years.

However, sources with knowledge of Chelsea's position insist they are yet to commit themselves to such a sum and are hoping to negotiate Benfica down to a lower figure. Payments are likely to be staggered in any agreement that is reached.

This is a common occurrence in many transfers but while Chelsea are confident they have significant headroom regarding UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules, the club have plans to continue an expensive overhaul after committing £278.4m in the summer.

A lower initial fee for Fernandez would give them more space to move on other deals, the first of which is likely to be the imminent €37m signing of Monaco centre-back Benoit Badiashile.

The British transfer record is £100m, paid by Manchester City to Aston Villa for Jack Grealish in 2021.

Chelsea's interest in Fernandez is genuine and he is their top midfield target in this window. The club have engaged the services of agent Jorge Mendes in an effort to broker an agreement.

Sources have told ESPN that Fernandez is hopeful of completing a transfer to Chelsea this month with personal terms not thought to be an issue if the two clubs can finalise a fee.