Sunday 21 January 2018

Mascherano confirms desire to exit Reds and rejoin old boss Benitez at Inter

Rory Smith

JAVIER MASCHERANO has told Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson that he wants to leave the club, with Inter Milan likely to lodge a £25m bid once the sale of Mario Balotelli to Manchester City is complete.

Mascherano and Hodgson spoke on the midfielder's first day back at training after he was granted an extended break following his World Cup exertions with Argentina.

The 25-year-old has made plain his desire to link up again with Inter's Rafael Benitez, the manager who brought him to Anfield for £18m following an initial loan in 2007. Mascherano revealed during the World Cup that he had started learning Italian and spoke fondly of his hope to be reunited with a manager whose "football is my football".

Inter opened discussions with Liverpool about the player last week and Mascherano's decision to tell Hodgson of his intentions is likely to speed a deal through.

Hodgson had failed to hold talks over the phone with the former West Ham player while he was on holiday with his family in Miami, revealing he had left a voicemail message but received no response.


Mascherano had wished to leave Liverpool last summer, hoping to be the subject of a bid from Barcelona, but Benitez's refusal to countenance losing both the Argentine and Xabi Alonso in the same summer precluded any deal.

He had seemed set to stay at Anfield earlier this year, opening discussions over a new, £100,000-a-week contract, but talks stalled in May and the departure of Benitez seemed to seal his own exit.

Mascherano will certainly be absent from Hodgson's first competitive game as Liverpool manager, against the Macedonian side Rabotnicki on Thursday. The former Fulham coach, though, may yet include Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Joe Cole and Jamie Carragher, despite admitting that his England contingent may not yet be ready to play.

"I do not know what to do," said Hodgson. "I will have to liaise with them and (head of sports science) Peter Brukner and make a decision. It is going to be a difficult discussion because Peter's feeling is we should not use any of them and I am going to be tempted to say I want to use quite a few of them."

The senior players set to feature on Thursday irrespective of Hodgson's discussions with his medical staff will be Lucas, Alberto Aquilani, David Ngog and new signing Milan Jovanovic.

Real Madrid midfielder Royston Drenthe has become the latest player to be linked with a move to Liverpool. The Dutchman, who is valued at £6m, has admitted he is unsettled at the Bernabeu. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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