Sporting CP have responded to former Inter midfielder Joao Mario joining Benfica by making their intentions known to mount a legal challenge.

In a statement released on the club’s official site, the Lisbon club inform all parties of their intention to take appropriate action for what they feel has been an improper action to allow the player to join their Lisbon rivals.

The 28-year-old’s contract with Inter was terminated by mutual consent yesterday, with the player’s move to Benfica officially being confirmed today.

Mario had been a player who the Nerazzurri were hoping to sell in the summer window, with his wages considered too high for a fringe player not in head coach Simone Inzaghi’s plans and the club hoping to receive a fee for the midfielder.

The player’s preference had been for his loan spell with Sporting to be made a permanent stay, but talks between Inter and Sporting fell through over the latter’s unwillingness to meet the Nerazzurri’s valuation.

With the deal to sell the player to Sporting off, the Nerazurri began to listen to other offers, and Benfica jumped to the head of the queue for his signature.

All parties had an agreement in principle for a deal, but a major obstacle to the sale existed in the form of a clause in the original deal which saw the player leave Sporting for Inter in the summer of 2016 which supposedly prevents the player from moving to one of Sporting’s Portuguese rivals under financial penalty.

In the end, the Nerazzurri decided to allow the player to leave by terminating his contract so that he could join Benfica as a free agent rather than selling him to the club outright, with an informal understanding in place regarding compensation.

However, Sporting believe that this constituted an inappropriate action to circumvent the clause, which they intend to invoke in a legal challenge aimed at the Nerazzurri’s decision to allow the player to depart and subsequently join Benfica.

The text of their official statement is as follows:

“In view of the news arriving to the public yesterday and today, Sporting SAD informs of the following:

  • In 2016, upon the transfer of player Joao Mario from Sporting CP to FC Internazionale Milano, the Italian club and player Joao Mario undertook, among other things, to make an additional payment of €30 million if and when the player had been registered with other Portuguese clubs, including Benfica;
  • As is known and public, FC Internazionale Milano and Joao Mario yesterday agreed to terminate, by mutual consent, the employment contract that united them, so that the player could enter into an employment contract with Benfica; this after FC Internazionale Milano refused an offer from Sporting Clube de Portugal – Futebol, SAD for the player in question;
  • It is the conviction of the Board of Directors of Sporting Clube de Portugal – Futebol, SAD that an expedient manner was used to ensure that Inter and the player Joao Mario tried to avoid the agreements signed with Sporting Clube de Portugal – Futebol, SAD in 2016;
  • And that this expedient manner only illustrates that all the parties were aware of the obligations assumed in 2016, and that, after 5 years, they intend to escape;
  • Sporting Clube de Portugal will not fail to defend the interests of the club in the appropriate avenues, holding the relevant parties responsible for the damage caused and the non-fulfillment of the obligations assumed.”