Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has warned any club interested in Javier Mascherano that they will not be able to sign the midfielder on the cheap and insisted that the player's suitors risk missing out on him altogether if they fail to meet the Reds' valuation.
Mascherano is said to have gone on strike on Monday after refusing to play for the Merseysiders in their 3-0 defeat to Manchester City. The midfielder's frustrations are beginning to grow with just a week left of the transfer window and he is also believed to be annoyed that Barcelona's bid was too low.
Hodgson claims it was his decision to leave the Argentina captain out but either way, his absence appears to have made Liverpool's bargaining position considerably weaker.
However, having reportedly already rejected a £12 million plus player bid from Barcelona for Mascherano, Hodgson has stressed that his club will not be held to ransom.
"Unfortunately the fee the club thinks is the correct fee and the fee we are being offered are very far apart,'' Hodgson said. "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 the club 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 would not have been a good time to select him.
"It will happen, I guess, a day when the offer for him matches our valuation, but until that day he stays with us.''
Liverpool are thought to be holding out for a figure closer to €30 million for Mascherano, with Barca's' first offer of £12 million plus former Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb viewed as derisory for one of the most effective holding midfielders in the game.