AC Milan are said to be edging closer to completing a deal for Alvaro Morata as their formidable summer spending spree continues, seemingly putting an end any lingering hopes Chelsea or Manchester United may have had of capturing the Real Madrid striker.
Gazzetta dello Sport reported on Monday morning (17 July) that the Rossoneri were nearing an agreement worth €70m (£61.4m, $80.2m) for a player who will be paid €10m-per-year in wages - a figure higher than Chelsea's €9m offer. Morata previously lit up Serie A with Juventus and has obviously moved ahead of Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Torino talisman Andrea Belotti on manager Vincenzo Montella's transfer wishlist.
Chief-executive Marco Fassone confirmed on Sunday that Milan were hoping to sign one of Morata, Aubameyang or Belotti over the coming weeks, after which sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli appeared to suggest to Mediaset that their pursuit of the former had "cooled".
Morata looked all set to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic as United's first-choice frontman this summer, only for a protracted saga to be thrown completely off course by Romelu Lukaku's surprise move to Old Trafford. It had been widely anticipated that the Belgian international would return to Stamford Bridge from Everton.
Having missed out on Lukaku, it was suggested by the Evening Standard, among others, that Morata had become Chelsea's number one transfer target as Antonio Conte seeks to replace Diego Costa before their title defence gets underway. The Blues have also been mentioned strongly in connection with Aubameyang and Belotti as well as the likes of Gonzalo Higuain.
It has also been suggested that United could still pursue Morata despite the arrival of Lukaku. When quizzed on the subject in Los Angeles over the weekend, Mourinho, who handed the 24-year-old his Real debut back in 2010, described it as a "shame" that the Red Devils could not agree a fee for his services and appeared to concede defeat.
Arguably no other club across Europe has enjoyed a more productive summer window to date than AC Milan, who had already added Andre Silva, Mateo Musacchio, Franck Kessie, Ricardo Rodriguez, Hakan Calhanoglu, Fabio Borini and Andrea Conti to their squad after being taken over by Chinese investment group Sino-Europe Sports.
That relentless spending continued over the weekend, with experienced defender Leonardo Bonucci arriving from Juventus in one of the shock deals of the window and Lucas Biglia completing his move from Lazio. Before that, goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma performed a surprise U-turn by penning a new four-year contract.
Milan are also in talks over a loan deal for Bayern Munich midfielder Renato Sanches, another known favourite of Mourinho's.