MILAN - Inter Milan edged closer to an expected takeover by Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir on Thursday when Massimo Moratti returned from talks in Paris admitting his time as president may soon be over.
Thohir has been linked with a takeover of the Italian giants since last season when Inter finished in a disappointing ninth place and failed to qualify for European competition.
Although Moratti and Thohir failed to reach agreement following meetings in May and June, the Italian returned from Paris Thursday evening indicating the pair had made significant progress.
Although telling domestic news agency ANSA, "we haven't really reached an agreement, not really," Moratti indicated that future roles of investors, as well as members of his family, had already been discussed.
"There are Indonesian investors ready to put money into the club. My family will remain in place, but there will be restructuring," he is quoted as saying on Gazzetta dello Sport.
When asked what stood in the way of the deal happening, he said: "Trying to decide and understand the right time to do it.
"There are hundreds of millions of euros at stake in the running of a club of Inter's standing. We'll see in another 30 days or so. The agreement will then possibly be reached, but we also said that three months ago.
"Both sides could still decide to pull out."
However when asked if he would remain president, Moratti said: "It's not something I'm really thinking about. No, I don't think so."
Gazzetta reported earlier Thursday that Thohir would acquire a majority 70 per cent stake and the pair "had reached an agreement" on a deal that would be signed next week.
If confirmed, Inter could be in line for a cash injection that could boost their bid to build a new stadium and create a winning team which they can then market around the world.
Inter, the last Italian side to win the Champions League in 2010 when they won the treble under Jose Mourinho, are reported to be desperate for a move away from the San Siro ground they share with city rivals AC Milan.
But Moratti also wants the club to take advantage of ripe markets in Asia which English Premier League giants like Manchester United have exploited.
Moratti told media last month he was still keen to attract investment that would help further promote the club worldwide.
"As a club Inter needs to expand and break into new markets. And with Erick (on board) this would be possible," Moratti was quoted as saying on August 3.
Following their dismal 2012-2013 season, Inter's value has dipped to an estimated 316 million euros (S$500 million), according to Forbes business group which rates the Nerazzurri as the 14th most valuable club in the world.
Forbes said over half of that sum, 218m euros, is generated by broadcasting revenues with the club's commercial and brand departments attracting 87m and 51m euros respectively. The remainder, 45m euros, comes from matchday revenues.
Gazzetta's newspaper report on Thursday claimed that Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, already boasted 11 million Inter fans.
Gazzetta quoted unnamed sources close to Thohir as saying this week: "Erick is very excited."
If successful, Thohir would become the first Asian owner of a major Serie A club but he is no stranger to investing in major sports.
The son of Teddy Thohir, co-owner of the automotive group Astra International, the 43-year-old Thohir owns shares in basketball side, the Philadelphia 76ers, as well as being a majority shareholder in DC United, a Major League Football team.
A regular user of Twitter, Thohir had yet to post any message supporting the reports on his official page.