Fernandez bets on Benfica return: “Now we can focus on football”.

Fernandez bets on Benfica return: “Now we can focus on football”.

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

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

Chelsea were thought to be close to signing this week, but the Blues’ reported refusal to honor the 21-year-old’s release clause, which is said to amount to a whopping £106m (€120m) presented a stumbling block.

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

But with Schmidt also adamant that Benfica didn’t want to sell Fernandez, the world champion looks set to resume his career in Portugal from Saturday.

After a 1-0 win over Benfica, the coach said: “We’re clean today.

“In yesterday’s press conference, I said clearly that Enzo has not been well for the last week. That’s why he wasn’t on the team.

“But I’m really looking forward to seeing him back in training tomorrow. He’s our player. I count on him to win games and titles. We need him to become champions. Now we can focus on football.”

Fernandez had played in last week’s 3-0 defeat by Braga – Benfica’s first loss of the season – but missed their first home game since the World Cup.

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

The captain! @Notamendi30

— SL Benfica (@slbenfica_en) January 6, 2023

“[The tribute] was very important for me and my family,” Otamendi told Benfica TV.

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

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

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