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Arsenal have been boosted in their pursuit of Joao Mario after Inter Milan made the midfielder available for transfer for just £26m, according to a report by TeamTalk.
Mario spent the majority of his career at Sporting Lisbon having progressed through their youth system before joining Inter in a £40m deal 18 months ago.
However, the 24-year-old’s time in Italy hasn’t gone according to plan as he’s fallen out-of-favour under Luciano Spalletti and has started just three Serie A games so far this season.
Summer signings Matias Vecino and Borja Valero – who both moved to the San Siro from Fiorentina last summer – are preferred to Mario and it seems the Portuguese international could now be on his way out.
TeamTalk are citing a report from Tuttosport that claims Inter have decided to put Mario up for sale with the Italian giants willing to cash-in at just £26m – which is £14m less than they paid 18 months ago.
This news has alerted Arsenal as the report suggests we are showing a keen interest in signing the 31-cap Portuguese attacking midfielder as Arsene Wenger prepares for life without Mesut Ozil.
Our German playmaker is expected to leave either in January or when his contract expires in June and it looks like the boss has identified Mario as a possible replacement.
The Porto-born star is a central attacking midfielder who can also play on the right so he could be regarded as someone to fill Ozil’s boots but I personally don’t think he’s anywhere near Mesut’s level just yet.
Mario would be a decent addition to the squad if we could get a deal agreed and at £26m he’d be a bargain in today’s market so I can see why Wenger is interested, but I just worry he won’t be the world class player we need to replace Ozil.