Roy Hodgson, the Liverpool manager, has told Barcelona to either make a proper bid for Javier Mascherano or forget about signing him altogether. The Catalans have reportedly made a £12million (Dh68.1m) offer for the Argentina captain which may also include Alexander Hleb as a makeweight. However, that falls way short of Liverpool's estimation of what the midfielder, signed from West Ham United for £18m three-and-a-half years ago, is worth.
Hodgson dropped the 26-year-old for Monday night's 3-0 defeat at Manchester City, but the 62-year-old insists Mascherano will not be allowed to leave for anything other than his full market value, which the Anfield club believe is nearer £24m. He said: "Unfortunately the fee the club thinks is the correct fee and the fee we are being offered are very far apart." "Unless that can be resolved he might be unhappy for a long time to come.
"But I have no wish to create headlines over the Mascherano situation. "The discussions between Barcelona and Liverpool are being held at high club level and as a result I don't really want to get involved in it. "It is not the first time these things have happened and there are quite a lot of clubs suffering at the moment by their players being courted by others and their players being unhappy at being required to fulfil their contracts.
"It has happened to us now. Hopefully matters will get resolved, certainly before the end of the transfer window and I'll have a chance to pick him again, but last night [Monday] would not have been a good time to select him." Meanwhile, Keith Harris , a renowned deal-broker, claims an overseas buyer is considering making an offer of between £400m and £500m for the Anfield club. The former Football League chairman, who has had a hand in the sales of Aston Villa, West Ham and Manchester City in the past, said due diligence has already been done.
Harris also said the party he was representing was not one that has been mentioned publicly before. "The overseas buyer we represent has completed due diligence," he said. "A huge amount of work has been done. It is none of the groups mentioned in the press. The ball is now in our client's court to make an offer. "I do not think the deal will be done before the transfer window closes this month but the next pressure point is October when some of the RBS [Royal Bank of Scotland] loan of £237million has to be repaid.
Last week Kenny Huang, the Hong Kong-based businessman - whose interest was allied to the Chinese government -pulled out of the bidding process. * Agencies