BENFICA STILL HOLDING STRONG
The Telegraph report that Chelsea “remain reluctant” to give into Benfica’s demands and meet the whopping £106-million release clause to sign highly-rated central midfielder Enzo Fernandez. The Blues are in negotiations with super-agent Jorge Mendes and the Portuguese club, who are willing to let Fernandez leave in January, but Benfica are demanding the release clause to be paid in full. There were rumours on Tuesday that Chelsea submitted a bid worth £112 million with a more structured payment, but the Telegraph state that the club have “baulked” at these suggestions. The World Cup winner is “pushing hard” for a deal to be completed, but Chelsea do not want to pay a fee which would be a record transfer for an English club.
Paper Round’s view: £106 million is a huge amount of money to pay, but will Benfica’s demands change in the summer? Surely they will just slap the same asking price on their prized asset as they know there are multiple clubs involved and no one wants to miss out on Fernandez. The 21-year-old is keen on a move, but it’s unlikely he will mind too much if he leaves six months later. Benfica are in a prime position to win their first Primeira Liga title since 2020. Whether it’s January or July – Fernandez will complete his high-profile transfer to one of the biggest clubs in Europe. The Argentine is Chelsea’s “number one midfield target” so they should just pay up if they want him.
CHELSEA COULD HIJACK ARSENAL’S MUDRYK DEAL
Chelsea could shift their transfer focus to signing an attacker and the Standard reveal that the Blues could swoop for Arsenal target Mykhaylo Mudryk. The Gunners have held long-term interest in the Shakhtar Donetsk winger, and he is Mikel Arteta’s “primary target” in the winter transfer window. However, Arsenal had an initial offer of £55 million rejected and have now submitted a second bid of £62 million. Shakhtar are yet to respond to the latest offer from Arsenal but are reportedly prepared to meet with Chelsea later this week regarding a potential deal for Mudryk.
Paper Round’s view: Chelsea are everywhere in the transfer market right now. It says a lot about the club, their finances and their attraction. The Blues are sitting in 10th in the Premier League and are having a disappointing campaign. At the moment, it seems unlikely that they will qualify for the Champions league next season, but they are still managing to attract some high-level players. It would be shocking for Arsenal if Mudryk ends up at Chelsea. The Gunners have been tracking the Ukraine international for a while and he is explicitly stating his love for Arsenal and desire to move to north London with any opportunity he gets in interviews or on his social media channels.
RONALDO V MESSI IS COMING SOON
We are going to be treated to another clash between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on January 19 as Paris Saint-Germain take on a mixed team in Riyadh. The Mirror reveal that Saudi Arabian rivals Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr will combine their squads and the friendly will take place in celebration of Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival in the Saudi Pro League. PSG will use the opportunity to announce Messi’s new contract with the Ligue 1 champions. The World Cup winner is set to add an additional year to his current deal in the French capital to end rumours of a return to Barcelona or a move to Inter Miami.
Paper Round’s view: This might be the last time we see Messi and Ronaldo go head-to-head. Obviously it is a bit of a dampener because it’s going to be in a friendly in Saudi Arabia, while Ronaldo plays for a Saudi Pro League XI. But it’s still Messi vs Ronaldo. It’s good news that Messi is planning to extend his stay at PSG too. There were strong rumours that he was planning to leave for the United States in the summer, which would have been a bit of a shame. He might be 35 years old, but he still has the talent to win another Champions League title or two if he stays in Europe.
BRIGHTON TO EXTEND TROSSARD CONTRACT
Brighton are set to activate a 12-month extension on Leandro Trossard’s current contract to avoid losing him for free at the end of the season. The Belgium international is wanted by both Newcastle United and Chelsea, but Brighton are desperate to hang onto Trossard. The 28-year-old would be tied down to the seaside club until 2024 and Brighton would be keen to offer him a new long-term contract with improved terms.
Paper Round’s view: Brighton are a very well-run club and there’s no way they were ever going to let Trossard walk for free this summer. The attacker has been vital to their impressive and consistent performances over the past two seasons and they cannot let him leave for free. It’s natural that Trossard will be linked to big moves, but he cannot guarantee that he will be a starter if he moves to a club like Chelsea. Newcastle might be a better option for him, but who knows what kind of talent they will be able to lure to Tyneside if they qualify for next season’s Champions League? Trossard might just be better off staying at Brighton.