The father of Portuguese start Joao Mario has claimed that Sporting Lisbon have rejected a bid from Inter Milan for the midfielder.

​According to Football Italia, the Italian giants are interested in the Euro 2016 star but their first bid fell way short of Sporting’s valuation of one of their prized assets.

“Proposals for the lad don’t come directly to me,” Mario’s father admitted to Diario de Noticias.

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“They go to his agent, Kia Joorabchian, and the Sporting President. I was informed, however, that the club said no to €35m plus €10m in bonuses from Inter and to €40m from Liverpool.

“Nothing particular has happened, my son is a professional and knows he has a contract with Sporting.

“At the same time, we’re talking about a very valuable player for the club, who would aspire to bigger projects in the course of his career.”

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The 23-year-old enjoyed a stellar campaign in 2016/16 as Sporting finished second behind city rivals Benfica.

Mario was one of the standout performers in the Sporting team, scoring six goals in 33 appearances, with his energy and robust style crucial to his side’s performances.

The Portuguese star is able to operate effectively out wide or from a central position and his versatility could be a key asset to any team, particularly Inter.

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Roberto Mancini’s side face the prospect of losing Marcelo Brozovic, who shares many of the same attributes as Mario, so signing a like-for-like replacement should be of primary importance.

Chelsea were also said to be interested in the Portuguese midfielder but any talks of a proposed deal have gone quiet in recent weeks.

With Inter securing Europa League football last season, a player of Mario’s ability could be a vital addition to a squad that is likely to be rigorously tested by tough defences, not to mention travelling great distances.

Depth will be crucial if Mancini’s side are to evolve in 2016/17 and with several stars linked with a move away from the club, a statement such as signing Mario would be a huge step in the right direction.