Hodgson’s Headache with Javier
Written by Thomas Curtis
Roy Hodgson has clearly informed Barcelona that they are going to have to make a substantial offer if they are to land Liverpool’s want-away midfielder Javier Mascherano, but are the club asking for too much? It is becoming evident that Barcelona are the only team left in the running for the industrious Argentine, after Inter admitted they would be unwilling to pay Liverpool’s asking price. Some reports have suggested that Barcelona have offered only £12 Million for the Argentine, for whom Liverpool shelled out £18 million just over three years ago. Other reports have claimed that Arsenal’s former playmaker Aleksander Hleb could be offered in part exchange.
With the recent publication of the Catalan clubs finances revealing the staggering £370 million debt owed by Barcelona, it is no surprise that they are unwilling to stump up the alleged £25-30 million requested by Liverpool for Mascherano’s services. Some would suggest that with that magnitude of debt they should not be allowed to bid for any players, especially after already giving Valencia £34million for David Villa this summer.
In reality, if Barcelona refused to splash the cash on their other primary summer transfer target, Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas, they are not going to be bullied into over-spending on a player who is already desperate to leave his current club. Javier Mascherano is a good player, and his presence will be missed for Liverpool should he leave in this window, but he does not offer Barcelona’s players or fans the popularity of Fabregas, or have the same commercial and football appeal attached to the Arsenal captain. For these reasons, it is unrealistic to expect Barcelona to substantially increase their debt to secure Mascherano’s signature. Liverpool’s alleged asking price for Mascherano is not unrepresentative of his qualities, and in most circumstances would be a perfectly reasonable price for the Argentine. However, because of Mascherano’s apparent desperation to quit Anfield, Barcelona have eyed a quick bargain and cannot be blamed for trying their luck.
Even though Reds boss Hodgson admitted after the loss to Manchester City that Mascherano was unhappy at Liverpool and wanted to leave, he is clearly going to stand his ground, and Mascherano won’t be leaving on the cheap. It is unlikely that Mascherano will stage a protest against Liverpool’s treatment of him or refuse to play for them, but his heart and desire to perform for Liverpool, if he is selected, will not be as strong as it has been in the past. The last thing Liverpool fans will want to see is lacklustre and heartless performances from important players. That is not a dig at Mascherano’s professionalism, but if he is truly unhappy at the club and Hodgson ends up repeatedly telling the media that the player is ‘not in the right frame of mind’ (as he did prior to the clash with Manchester City), Mascherano’s displays on the pitch will suffer. Therefore it is in the best interests of Liverpool and Mascherano to get this resolved as quickly as possible, and that may well mean making a compromise on the value of the player.
It is easy to understand Hodgson’s position in this situation, and it is not unreasonable of him to expect Barcelona to pay a decent price for the Argentine, but £25-30 million is an unlikely fee given the circumstances. Liverpool do not have the luxury of being able to freely spend millions on new recruits without selling first, and are obviously keen to get the true value for the player. However, Liverpool could do a lot worse than considering a swap deal involving Aleksander Hleb, who already has Premier League experience with Arsenal.
Even short-term, a swap loan deal could turn out to be a good piece of business for Liverpool. Having completed the acquisition of Juventus midfielder Christian Poulson, the possible arrival of Hleb would compensate for the departures of Mascherano and £20 million Italian flop Alberto Aquilani, who is reported to be joining Juventus with a view to a permanent return to Italy.
How much do you think Barcelona should pay for Javier Mascherano? Would Aleksander Hleb be a good signing for Liverpool?
/ 5 hours ago
Manchester United take on Fulham at Craven Cottage on Wednesday night. Here is the...
/ 5 hours ago
Chelsea will look for a win to close-in on the top four when they...