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Chelsea’s £39m target bids farewell to club after 12 years but Blues could miss out to rivals

Chelsea target Joao Mario is reportedly closing in on an exit from Sporting Lisbon, but there are doubts over whether or not he is Premier League bound.

The Portuguese international was replaced in the closing stages of his side’s 2-0 win over Maritimo at the weekend, and received a standing ovation from the club’s supporters.

With all parties conceding to the fact that he will be leaving, La Gazzetta dello Sport report that Chelsea are likely to miss out on the signing despite lodging a £39m bid for the midfielder, with Inter ready to wrap up a deal for the Euro 2016 winner.

According to the report, the Nerazzurri will welcome Mario to Milan on Monday before he puts pen-to-paper on a five-year deal worth £50,000-a-week, ending a 12-year-old stay at Sporting which started at youth level.

If true, it will be further disappointment for Antonio Conte in the transfer market, as he continues to look for ways to strengthen his Chelsea squad ahead of the deadline.

The Italian tactician has brought in N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi so far this summer, but given the poor level of performance from Chelsea last season, he will arguably need more new faces to bridge the gap between themselves and their rivals in the top four.

Speculation suggests that they are ready to pounce for a trio of players, with The Express linking them with a £140m spree for the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Kalidou Koulibaly.

Should Conte bring in that pair and possibly others, it would be a major boost for the entire squad as they look to put a difficult year behind them and get back to competing for silverware with the former Juventus and Italy boss leading their charge.

Chelsea face West Ham United in their opening game of the season on Monday night, with Conte hoping to see immediate results from his work with the players over the summer.

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