With this summer’s transfer activity set to break all records before it, Chelsea are hoping to add another £50m onto the spending bill as they refuse to back down in the fight to secure Joao Mario from Sporting Lisbon.
Reports last week suggested Portugal’s Euro 2016-winning lynch-pin has identified Inter as his number one target, but Portuguese daily paper Diario de Noticias claim the Blues are still in the hunt.
Mario has become one of the summer’s top targets for Europe’s biggest clubs, following a fine couple of seasons in Lisbon.
The 23-year-old has missed only a handful of games for Sporting over the last two years, and played a crucial role in Portugal’s route to being crowned champions in France.
Mario missed only 13 minutes of Selecao’s final four matches, and played every minute of the semi-final and final to become one of the tournament’s unsung heroes.
Comments from Sporting director Bruno de Carvalho appear to have put Inter and Chelsea on the back foot however.
Carvalho has been quoted as saying: “Of course there are some players that people want, but nothing has changed compared to what I have said on several occasions. Sporting CP is not a club that intends to sell.”
A quick trawl through the history books suggests Sporting do sell, however, especially to English clubs.
Only two summers ago, the club sold Marcos Rojo to Manchester United for £16m, 12 months after allowing Ricky van Wolfswinkel to join Norwich.
In 2011 Simon Vukcevic left for Blackburn, and then there are of course, Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo, both of whom left Sporting to join Man United.
Put that all together and one may deduce that Carvalho’s comments could be simply to drum up the price tag for his star asset.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.