Chelsea chuck Scolari sized spanner in Mourinho's works
Just when Jose Mourinho thought that he had the orchard all to himself to pick the best of European talent, along comes Gene HackmanÃ¢ÂÂs doppelganger Felipe Scolari to knock over the apple cart.
The feeling in Italy is that Chelsea turned to Big Phil partially to ensure that either one of Deco or Ricardo Quaresma donÃ¢ÂÂt pitch up at Inter and encourage Frank Lampard and Ricardo Carvalho to have second thoughts about swapping the Kings Road for Via Montenapoleone.
It seems that Deco will follow his national team boss to England while the Milanese grapevine confirms that Inter are that Ã¢ÂÂmajor clubÃ¢ÂÂ Quaresma was alluring to when he announced last week he would be leaving Porto.
And what of Frank? Well, the Inter transfer chief Marco Branca has been spotted jumping on and off the London shuttle from MilanÃ¢ÂÂs Linate airport more times than the water-swigging models who strut the catwalks in the mornings before returning to their south London digs by late afternoon.
Again the ever-reliable rumour-mill around InterÃ¢ÂÂs Palazzo Durini headquarters verifies that English lessons have been in full swing to welcome the England international.
Scolari could scupper Jose's hopes of landing Deco & Carvalho
Massimo Moratti and Mourinho have drawn up their squad for next season and just in case Chelsea feel they can prise Mario Balotelli away, the strikerÃ¢ÂÂs 18th birthday present in August will be a contract which sees his income jump from Ã¢ÂÂ¬60,000 a year to Ã¢ÂÂ¬1.1million initially and then around a cool Ã¢ÂÂ¬3million ahead of its 2013 expiry date.
The battle lines have thus been drawn between the two heavyweights in the struggle to obtain the upper hand in squad depth going into the Champions League campaign.
Mourinho has specifically asked for two wide men to provide the service for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Balotelli, so while Quaresma fits the bill on the right AS RomaÃ¢ÂÂs Amantino Mancini seems the perfect fit on the left.
All that needs to be decided is whether David Suazo, Julio Cruz or Hernan Crespo head to the capital as part of the deal.
While Inter look watertight and battle-ready to repel Chelsea, in the red and black half of the city there is a real fear that there could be a repeat of the Andriy Shevchenko saga surrounding Ricky Kaka.
Two years ago, the Rossoneri kept telling everyone Sheva wasnÃ¢ÂÂt leaving and then lo and behold off he goes without a word to anyone.
The danger now is that history is going to repeat itself with the Brazilian, who is back home recovering from a knee op and celebrating becoming a dad for the first time.
The World and European Player of the Year has once again said he is committed to the cause back in Milan and that includes slumming it in the UEFA Cup.
All of this is little comfort to the Rossoneri faithful who now face a long torrid summer looking out for a Gene Hackman lookalike stepping off a flight from London with a massive wad of money.
Kaka: Going nowhere. But that's what they said about Sheva...