Barcelona Back In The Running For Javier Mascherano?
By Siobhan McCall
Barcelona’s well documented interest in Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas has dominated transfer news this summer, but it looks as if the Catalan side may be ready to give up their pursuit of the Gunners captain and turn their attention elsewhere. As reported by the Metro, the La Liga Champions could be set to challenge Internazionale for the signature of Liverpool’s Javier Mascherano. The midfielder has made clear his desire for a move away from Anfield, and Liverpool are reportedly looking for an offer of around £35m, a fee which is substantially cheaper than what Arsenal are asking for their World Cup winner.
Throughout the last few weeks, Inter Milan have appeared the most likely destination for the Argentine skipper, especially since Rafael Benitez is the new coach of the Serie A Champions. Mascherano has made no secret of his desire to link up with his former Liverpool boss and earlier this week his agent Walter Tamer described how;
The strongest team in the world is after him, where there are various compatriots who he has got to know playing for Argentina, and they are coached by a manager to whom he is tied by personal affection.
Compatriot Javier Zanetti also issued a plea to Mascherano to join the Nerazzurri, declaring;
He’s a great player, he retrieves a lot of balls. He would suit Inter.
In the past, however, the Argentine has spoken of his wife’s homesickness and used her unhappiness as the reason for him wanting to leave Merseyside. This could merely be an excuse, but if it is the truth, a move to Spain would be a better option than a country with another new language to learn. Barcelona, who are looking for a defensive midfield replacement for Yaya Toure, will be hoping that this factor may swing the transfer in their favour. It almost did last year, when the Catalans first declared their interest in taking Mascherano to the Nou Camp. Rafa Benitez put a stop to any such move, stating that he would not allow his midfield man to move for anything less than £50m. It has recently been revealed that Barcelona have had to take out a £130m loan to combat their financial problems and this is probably one of the key reasons, alongside the prospect of having a tough holding midfielder supporting Xavi and Andrés Iniesta, why they may look to Mascherano instead of Cesc Fabregas.
It appears inevitable that Liverpool’s £18.6m signing will be moving away from Merseyside, and he’ll certainly be a loss to the side as he was someone who was always ready to fight for the team, gave one hundred percent and never shied away. But when a player has expressed his desire to move on for two consecutive seasons, and the Reds can’t offer him Champions League football this time round, it’s probably best to let him go. It shouldn’t make too much difference which of these sides he signs for, as it’s unlikely that Liverpool will be facing either in the foreseeable future. Let’s hope, however, that they can secure a deal with whoever is offering the largest transfer fee, and that Roy Hodgson is able to use some of this money to strengthen his side. Rafa shouldn’t be allowed to forget that he valued Mascherano at such a high price last season and there should certainly be some negotiating for the best possible deal in Liverpool’s favour.
It remains to be seen whether Barca will put in a bid for the former West Ham man but should they do so, it’ll certainly give Mascherano a lot to think about. Well, the question of whether he should link up with 2009’s treble winners and current Spanish title holders, or 2010’s treble winners and Serie A champions for the past five years? It’s a hard life for some footballers…
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