Enzo Fernandez has only played 13 games for Chelsea since his British record £106.8 million move from Benfica in January, but the Stamford Bridge side have already decided to extend his contract.
When news of his fresh deal broke on Thursday evening – via Cesar Luis Merlo of TyC Sports – fans of the west London club were caught by surprise. After all, the Argentine midfielder had signed an eight-year contract just months earlier.
With his future sorted until 2031, it was a curious call from Chelsea to extend his contract by a further 12 months so early in his Blues’ career.
Sure, he’s been one of the club’s better performers during a bleak period for the club in general, but did Chelsea bosses really need to tie Fernandez down to a longer deal now?
As it turns out, they had a pretty clever reason for doing so.
Why did Chelsea offer Enzo Fernandez a new contract after only three months?
Currently closer to the bottom of the Premier League than the top, Chelsea basically need to win the Champions League this season in order to stand any chance of playing European football in the 2023/24 campaign.
Given that they trail holders Real Madrid by two goals at the midway point of their quarter-final tie, it seems very unlikely that they will be able to make that happen.
The assumed absence of Champions League revenue next season has already left the club scrambling to make savings wherever possible to ensure that they stay on the right side of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.
Before he recently signed on the dotted line, Fernandez’s £106.8m transfer fee was set to be spread over eight years in the club’s accounts, costing them £12.5m-a-year.
Per football.london, by inking an extension with the player, his fee can now be spread over nine-and-a-half years (£11.25m-a-year), ultimately saving the club £1.25m annually.
It’s not the only saving Chelsea need to make to balance their books after chairman Todd Boehly’s incredible spending spree since arriving at the club less than 12 months ago, but it is a step in the right direction.
How could Chelsea balance the books this summer?
During a recent appearance on the Football Daily podcast, journalist David Ornstein explained how Chelsea could get themselves out of FFP danger with just one sale.
“If Chelsea were to sell a homegrown player for £40million for example, it’s immediate profit on the books as Chelsea haven’t paid a transfer fee for him.”
That could make it far easier for another club to tempt Chelsea to part with the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek or Mason Mount this summer – who both came through the club’s youth academy.
If history is anything to go by, Boehly is likely to want to splash the cash again when the transfer window reopens in the summer. This time around, though, the American businessman might just need to exercise a little more caution than we’ve seen from him before.