Inter Milan have admitted they are unlikely to sign Corinthians star Paulinho before the transfer window closes, opening the door for Chelsea to re-enter the race to sign the midfielder at the end of the season, according to The Metro.
The 24-year-old Brazilian had been earmarked as a potential replacement for former-Inter star Wesley Sneijder and Liverpool-bound playmaker Coutinho, but the San Siro giants have since admitted a deal looks unlikely before Thursday's deadline.
According to The Metro, Inter Milan have revealed Corinthians will not sell this month, but hinted negotiations might be easier at the end of the season.
Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez admitted today that new signings are not on the agenda for the Stamford Bridge club, but the report claims Inter's unsuccessful pursuit could tempt the Blues back into the chase to sign the Brazil international.
The Chelsea hierarchy opened the chequebook to sign Demba Ba in a £7.5m deal from Newcastle, while Danny Sturridge exited for Liverpool, leaving Benitez with Ba and Fernando Torres as the club's two recognised strikers.
Speculation had mounted that the Blues could dip into the transfer market before the close of play this week, but the Stamford Bridge board are thought to be unwilling to free up any more cash for Benitez.
Paulinho, who faced Chelsea in the FIFA Club World Cup final, is widely regarded as one of the most talented midfielders in South America, and his strong performance against the Blues was one of the main reasons behind his club's victory.
Chelsea already have a strong Brazilian contingent, with Ramires, David Luiz and Oscar all full Brazil internationals, and on-loan playmaker Lucas Piazon a Brazil youth international.