Sporting CP have written a letter to Inter inquiring about why midfielder Joao Mario’s contract with the club was terminated.

This according to today’s print edition of Lisbon-based newspaper Record, who report that this could represent another step in the transfer saga and possible legal drama, with the 28-year-old set to join Sporting’s city rivals Benfica.

Inter had been hoping to get rid of the midfielder this summer, and his first choice had been making his loan stay at Sporting from last season permanent.

However, the Nerazzurri were unable to reach an agreement with Sporting for his sale due to the latter’s unwillingness to meet their valuation, and the deal fell through, leading the Nerazzurri to listen to other offers.

Sporting’s Lisbon rivals jumped to the front of the queue in recent weeks, convincing both Inter and the player, and a deal has thought to have been all but done for some days.

However, an obstacle to the sale has thought to have been Sporting’s threats of legal action based around invoking a supposed clause in the terms of his original sale from Sporting to Inter in 2016 which prevents the Nerazzurri from selling him to any of their Portuguese rivals under threat of financial penalty.

Inter and Sporting appear to have found a way around this obstacle, with the clubs circumventing the clause by having the Nerazzurri agree a termination of contract with the player so he can join Benfica as a free agent rather than being sold by the Nerazzurri, with the Lisbon club having an informally agreed debt to Inter equal to the agreed fee.

However, Sporting have sent a letter asking Inter why they have let the player go for free rather than accepting their offer thought to be for around €5 million this summer, and could look to pursue legal action anyway.