Jorge Jesus stands ground on Inter's Joao Mario interest

In the face of a big-money transfer to Inter, Sporting CP coach Jorge Jesus says Joao Mario will be selected if available for season opener.

Sporting CP coach Jorge Jesus says his club does not need to sell midfielder Joao Mario, despite significant interest from Inter.

After losing the Primeira Liga title to Benfica by two points, Sporting will be hoping to go one better when they start their season on Saturday at home to Maritimo.

The former Benfica coach confirmed if a deal is not finalised, he will take part this weekend.

"If nothing happens before the game then he [Mario] will play for us, it is simple," he said.

"I do not know what is going to happen until August 31, the transfer deadline day in Europe, but Sporting are not a selling club.

"The president also clarified that the club does not need to sell. Sporting have to defend their jewels to the end. It is Sporting CP who decide what happens to their players."

The Italian giant reportedly offered €45million for the Portuguese midfielder, and while his agent Kia Joorabchian’s work as a consultant for Inter’s Chinese owners could mean they will pursue, Jorge Jesus has cooled those reports.

Similarly to Inter's deal with Marcelo Brozovic, with who they finalised their acquisition this off-season, the Italian giant will pay an initial loan fee of €10m before paying the remaining amount during the next off-season.

Although the Sporting boss is not willing to let go of his key players, he accepts it is the nature of football.

"We are talking about a player who is targeted by many clubs who have greater economic resources. Sporting decide on the player’s future, all I can say is we have great professionals," he said.

"We have endured a lot of harassment of our players from other clubs, in particular five or six."