Hodgson standing firm over Mascherano
An irritated Roy Hodgson has no intention of allowing Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano to walk out of the club on his own - or Barcelona's - terms.
The Argentina captain was omitted from the squad for the 3-0 Premier League defeat at Eastlands after becoming distracted by a bid, believed to be £12m, from Barcelona. Hodgson rejected suggestions the 26-year-old had refused to play, instead insisting he chose to drop the combative midfielder for the sake of the team.
"Javier Mascherano is not in the right frame of mind to play the game because his head has obviously been turned by the offer from Barcelona," said the Reds manager. "This matter has developed over the last couple of days. 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 don't really want to get involved in it. The discussions between Barcelona and the club are being held at high club level and as a result I don't want to start saying things which may or may not be true.
"I have no wish to create headlines over the Mascherano situation. 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."
It is likely Barcelona will eventually come up with a figure - around £24m has been suggested - which will persuade the Merseysiders to sell. Hodgson has previously admitted they have an agreement with the player, initially made last season under former manager Rafael Benitez, which allows him to leave should an acceptable bid come in.
But the 62-year-old Englishman will not be held to ransom by the player, who has complained for some time about wanting to leave England because his family is not happy, or interested clubs. He has not ruled out the prospect of keeping Mascherano but it seems unlikely the Argentinian will play again until the matter is concluded by a sale or the close of the transfer window.
"Hopefully matters will get resolved, certainly before the end of the transfer window and I'll have a chance to pick him again, but tonight would not have been a good time to select him," said Hodgson prior to the game. "At the moment his mind isn't right, so it wasn't correct to select him.
"Of course, we are under pressure from another club who wants to buy him, but we are in good company as it has happened to a lot of clubs during this period of time. It will happen, I guess, a day when the offer for him matches our valuation, but until that day he stays with us."