Joao Mario, who spent the second part of last season on loan at West Ham, has been excluded from Inter Milan’s squad for the Champions League.
The Portuguese international midfielder, valued at £20.7m by Transfermarkt, has been snubbed as the Italian giants battle with Financial Fair Play restrictions in Europe’s elite competition.
Manuel Pellegrini preferred to pursue other attacking midfield options in the summer; but could this latest snub open the door for his return to the London Stadium?
What’s the situation now then?
ESPN report that Inter have only been permitted to name 21 players in their squad for the Champions League, where they will face Barcelona, PSV and Tottenham in Group B.
That is because they are still facing FFP restrictions; forcing manager Luciano Spaletti to shed four players from his squad.
ESPN claim that Mario is surplus to requirements at the San Siro; Inter wanted to offload him in the summer, but could not find a buyer.
Will latest snub convince Pellegrini to pounce?
Pellegrini preferred the likes of Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko over a return for Mario in the summer. The duo have struggled to make an impact; Mario was in fine form by the end of last season.
Mario’s latest snub by Inter is surely only going to push him closer to the exit door; if Pellegrini’s two creative gambles have still not paid off by January, the Portuguese is certainly worth a look.
One of the biggest criticisms of Pellegrini’s West Ham is a lack of energy, but Mario has it in abundance. Pellegrini should monitor the situation with interest.