Joao Mario is ready to leave Inter for Benfica on a permanent basis, but the midfielder’s transfer is being held up as the Nerazzurri assess the legal ramifications of a clause with Sporting CP.

This according to Lisbon-based newspaper Record, who report that the Nerazzurri are holding off on completing the sale until they are sure that it could not provoke a legal challenge by Sporting.

The Portuguese spent last season on loan with Sporting and had hoped to make his stay permanent, but talks between Inter and Sporting broke down over the latter’s unwillingness to meet the Nerazzurri’s valuation for the player.

With Inter willing to listen to offers from other clubs, Sporting’s city rivals Benfica swooped in to become the favourites, and it is now thought that the Lisbon club have an agreement with the player, and have submitted an offer which meets Inter’s €7.5 million asking price which they are waiting to be accepted.

However, Sporting believe that they have a clause in the deal which brought the player to Inter from Sporting in 2016 which prohibits the Nerazzurri from selling him to a Portuguese rival under threat of a financial penalty.

The Nerazzurri wish to be sure that they will not incur any such penalty, reported to be as high as €30 million owed to Sporting, and so they are awaiting greater clarity on the nature of the clause before they move forward with the deal.

Inter have informed Sporting of Benfica’s offer and given them the chance to equal it, but Sporting have held firm on the size of their offer, which is for €4 million initially with a potential further €1.5 million in add-ons.