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May 29, 2008

Benitez facing Mascherano Olympics quandray

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez is set to discuss with Javier Mascherano the Argentinian's possible participation in this summer's Olympic Games.

Mascherano, 23, looks likely to be named in Sergio Batista's Argentina squad as an over-age player but the issue has seemingly caused consternation at Anfield with Benitez worried about his absence for the start of the new Premier League campaign.

Brazilian Lucas is also likely to be in Beijing with his country while Xabi Alonso seems set to leave the club for Juventus, leaving Benitez short of midfielders for the early stages of the campaign.

Benitez told the club's website, liverpoolfc.tv: 'This is a very difficult situation for us because we have Lucas, who is eligible through his age with Brazil, and Mascherano, who can play for Argentina as an over-age player, so I need to discuss his position with him.

'We will see what happens.

'We have some time so we need to wait and we will try to find a solution with Mascherano that will be the best for the club and the best for the player.

'With Lucas and Sebastian Leto we will accept the situation.

'It is a difficult situation because if the countries want the best players to take part they have to go to the professional clubs. But from our point of view, we have to manage the situation as well as we can.'

Alonso, 26, is thought to be in Turin holding talks with Juventus today.

The Basque midfielder has found first-team opportunities increasingly limited at Anfield and the club need to raise funds to make signings over the summer.

Juve president Giovanni Cobolli Gigli said in the Liverpool Daily Post: 'We can't deny that we're interested, but there's always the problem of getting value for money.

'Jean-Claude Blanc (general manager) is working on this and on other possibilities.'

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