Fernandes has been one of the most talked about players of the January transfer window, having been linked with a host of clubs including Manchester United and Chelsea, but the Hammers now look set to complete the deal.
BREAKING: West Ham agree deal in principle to sign Benfica midfielder Gedson Fernandes on 18-month loan with no option or obligation to buy.— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) January 9, 2020
A source had already confirmed to 90min that West Ham were leading the race to sign the 20-year-old, despite serious interest from their Premier League rivals.
Sky Sports explains that the loan agreement with Benfica does not include an option for West Ham to buy the player at the end of his loan term.
The Hammers had initially offered a deal with a £33m obligation after the first 18 months, while Chelsea put forward a package with a larger £55m obligation to buy.
Yet West Ham have proven to be more favourable to Benfica. Sky Sports’ report notes that the Portuguese club is confident Fernandes will better maintain his value at the London Stadium as he is more likely to get more regular playing opportunities than at Stamford Bridge.
Equally, it is pointed out that Chelsea’s £55m deal was dependent on Fernandes playing at least half of the club’s games during his loan, for which there would have been no guarantees.
As for Fernandes himself, Sky write that the Premier League was his personal preference over other top flight leagues in Europe, while choosing a club in London was for family reasons, which therefore ruled out a potential move to other parts of England.
Fernandes hasn’t actually started a Primeira Liga game for Benfica since October amid claims that he has fallen out with coach Bruno Lage. He began this season nursing a metatarsal injury but was one of Portugal’s brightest talents at the start of last season.