Sporting CP and Portugal midfielder Joao Mario has reportedly snubbed the chance to join Premier League side Chelsea, signing a five-year-deal with Inter Milan instead, according to the Sun.
The 23-year-old has just returned from a historic international tournament for countrymen, having won Portugal’s first ever piece of international silverware following their 1-0 victory over hosts France to claim this summer’s Euros.
Mario was at the forefront of his country’s success in the tournament, and impressed a number of some of the biggest clubs in Europe with his assists and general attacking prowess in midfield. Despite brief interest from Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United, Chelsea were reportedly the favourites to swoop for the Lisbon youngster as new manager Antonio Conte looks to bolster his squad for the new campaign.
Despite their interest, it appears Serie A giants Inter Milan have won the race for the player for around £29m, and have their new Chinese consortium to thank for the successful deal, which is complex to say the least.
Following their takeover, Zhang Jindong, the new majority shareholder of the Nerazzurri, signed the player for his Chinese club Jiangsu Suning, and immediately sent Mario out on loan to Inter Milan. However, this must be completed by Friday, which is the end of the Chinese Super League transfer window, otherwise the deal will be scrapped.
Currently, Inter Milan representatives Kia Joorabchian and Pini Zahavi are thrashing out the details in the Portuguese capital.
Since joining the senior setup at Sporting CP as an 18-year-old, Mario has made 64 appearances in all competitions, scoring 11 goals, and has represented Portugal at every single age level, making 18 appearances for the senior side.