Mascherano set for Barcelona move
Javier Mascherano's long-awaited transfer to Barcelona is set to be completed this weekend after Liverpool accepted a bid from the Catalans.
The midfielder almost joined the Primera Division champions 12 months ago only for former manager Rafael Benitez to eventually price the player out of a move. However, with the 26-year-old keen to move for personal reasons - he constantly complained his family had not settled in England - the club came to an agreement with him that if they received an acceptable bid they would allow him to leave.
After rejecting an initial bid of £16m from Barcelona last weekend an offer has now been forthcoming which comes close to their valuation of £25m. The player was never likely to stay once he became aware of Barcelona's initial bid and told Hodgson he did not want to play in Monday's defeat to Manchester City. But Liverpool were never going to accept anything less than they paid for Mascherano when they rescued him from West Ham's reserves for £18m three and a half years ago.
"Liverpool Football Club have agreed terms for the transfer of Javier Mascherano to FC Barcelona," said a Liverpool statement. "The Spanish club have now been given permission to speak to the Argentina midfielder."
This week Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola admitted he was in the market for a defensive midfielder having been thwarted in his attempts to sign primary transfer target Cesc Fabregas from Arsenal. Reports in the Spanish media earlier this week claimed Mascherano had already agreed a four-year, £85,000-a-week contract and, now Liverpool have accepted a fee, the Argentina captain will travel to Barcelona for a medical this weekend.
A statement from Barcelona appeared to confirm that, with the Catalans even suggesting Mascherano played a part in the final negotiations. "FC Barcelona and Liverpool FC have reached an agreement in principle for the transfer of Javier Mascherano to the club for the next four seasons," it said.
"The deal was closed after intensive efforts made by the club in the final hours and through the player himself in the negotiations. Barcelona will report the details of the operation once the player passes the medical and the transfer is concluded. It is hoped Javier Mascherano will arrive in Barcelona this weekend."