Hodgson rages over Barcelona bid for Mascherano
Liverpool have rejected a bid of £18.8m plus Alexander Hleb from Barcelona for Javier Mascherano, despite manager Roy Hodgson claiming the Argentine midfielder was "not in the right frame of mind" to play in Monday night’s 3-0 defeat at Manchester City.
Mascherano has made it clear to Liverpool that he wants to leave Anfield, refusing to sign a new contract offer tabled by the club.
Hodgson is refusing to allow the player to be sold for less than Liverpool’s €20m valuation, however, and the former Fulham manager is understood to have no interest in accepting Hleb as part of any deal.
And although the Mascherano camp have suggested that the player has been offered a deal by Barcelona, Hodgson insists that the 26 year-old will only leave on Liverpool’s terms.
Hodgson said: “Javier Mascherano is not in the right frame of mind at the moment to play a game because his head has been turned by the offer from Barcelona.
“The fee we are being offered and the fee they [Barcelona] think is the correct fee are very, very far apart.
“Unless that can be resolved, he [Mascherano] might be unhappy for a long time to come.
“It's not the first time these things happen and there are quite a lot of clubs suffering at the moment from players being courted by other clubs and the players therefore being unhappy at being required to fulfil their contracts.
“It has happened to us now, but this matter has developed over the last couple of days.”
Barcelona’s initial offer, lodged late on Sunday, is higher than was expected and shows their intent to do a deal.
Hleb arrived for £13.3m two years ago from Arsenal but has failed to make an impression at the Nou Camp. The 29 year-old, who was excluded from the official team photograph, has been told he can leave.
Mascherano was omitted from last week’s Europa League tie against Trabzonspor, which means he is not cup-tied for European competition, and Liverpool have signed Christian Poulsen as a potential replacement.
Inter Milan, now coached by Rafael Benítez, had hoped to sign Mascherano, but the funding for the deal has stalled, while Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho would like to acquire the Argentine captain and agents had hoped to propose a straight swap deal to Liverpool involving the striker Karim Benzema.
Meanwhile, Manchester City’s own misfit, Robinho, is set to meet with officials from Fenerbahce in Manchester today in an attempt to seal a move before the Aug 31 transfer deadline.
The Turkish club are aiming to outflank Istanbul rivals Besiktas, who are struggling to finance a £16m deal for the £32.5m British record signing, but City’s valuation is still viewed as excessive by both clubs.