World Cup star Fernandez starts for Benfica amid Chelsea speculation

    Enzo Fernandes has been included in Benfica’s starting XI against Braga despite growing rumors that he will join Chelsea in January.

    Fernandez was the star of the World Cup, playing in all seven of Argentina’s matches before winning the title in Qatar.

    The 21-year-old, who joined Benfica from River Plate last year, was rewarded for his efforts with the title of best young player of the tournament.

    However, his performances have attracted interest from some of Europe’s elite teams and Chelsea are reportedly in the lead.

    Indeed, reports on Friday claimed that Fernandes had already agreed to join the Premier League team and the ball was now in Benfica’s side as to whether they would accept the offer.

    However, the rumors did not stop Benfica manager Roger Schmidt from calling on the midfielder to play against Braga in Benfica’s first league game since the World Cup.

    When asked about Fernandez at Thursday’s pre-match press conference, Schmidt admitted it’s natural for a player to receive huge offers.

    “These young players sometimes have opportunities,” he said. “It’s not just about Enzo, it’s about all the players.

    “It’s part of the football business. If they have the opportunity, they must make decisions. I can give them advice and recommendations.

    “But I have always respected the decisions of the players because they only have one career.”

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