Enzo Fernandez joins Chelsea for British-record transfer fee

Argentina's Enzo Fernandez runs with the ball during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Argentina and Croatia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, on Dec. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

LISBON (AP) — Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez became the most expensive player in British soccer history after joining Chelsea from Benfica for 106.7 million pounds ($131.4 million), the Portuguese club announced Wednesday.

The fee surpassed the 100 million pounds (then $139 million) that Manchester City paid Aston Villa for England international Jack Grealish in August 2021.

Chelsea agreed to pay the release clause in the 22-year-old World Cup winner’s contract after a day of negotiations between Benfica and the co-owners of the Premier League club.

Fernandez only joined Benfica from Argentine club River Plate in August, for a reported fee of around $10 million plus add-ons.

His profile increased at the World Cup in Qatar last year, when he broke into Argentina’s team during its run to winning the title.