Inter are in advanced talks with Portuguese club Benfica over the sale of 28-year-old Nerazzurri midfielder Joao Mario after a move to their Lisbon rivals Sporting CP appeared close.

This according to today’s print edition of Rome-based newspaper Corriere dello Sport, who claim that the Portuguese club have emerged as a possible destination for the 28-year-old.

Mario is a player who Inter want to offload in the summer with the player not in the first-team plans for the squad, and the club hoping to get his wages off the books.

Sporting had been heavy favourites to sign the midfielder, who spent last season on loan with the club, on a permanent basis, with the player wanting to extended his stay.

However, it is thought that the Portuguese champions have stalled the deal by refusing to come close to the Nerazzurri’s demanded fee of €7.5 million, meaning that a deal which once appeared very close is once again far away.

In the meantime the Nerazzurri have begun entertaining offers from other clubs for the Portuguese midfielder, with Nice and Villarreal thought to be interested.

Sporting’s Lisbon rivals Benfica have joined that list, and their negotiations with Inter are reported to be at an advanced stage with the club offering €7.5-8 million for the player, which Inter would accept.

Should Sporting increase their offer to meet Inter’s valuation they would immediately become the favourites for the player’s signature as his favoured destination, but if not a shock move to their city rivals could be on the cards.