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Guardiola coy on Mascherano

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has admitted that he is looking to add a defensive midfielder to the Catalans' squad, but refused to confirm that Javier Mascherano is his No. 1 target.

• Hodgson wants Masch bid upped
• Want-away Mascherano goes on strike

Liverpool midfielder Mascherano was close to moving to the Nou Camp last summer, and has been heavily linked with a move again recently, with Barcelona believed to have had a bid of £12 million plus Alexander Hleb rejected.

The Argentina captain was missing from Liverpool's squad from the 3-0 defeat to Manchester City on monday, with some reports suggesting he has gone in strike.

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has maintained that Mascherano will only be allowed to leave Anfield for the right price, with Barcelona now thought to be considering whether to up their bid.

But when asked if the Spanish champions would make another move for the 26-year-old, Barca coach Guardiola's repsonse was guarded.

"I will speak about him when he's here - if he comes,'' Guardiola said in a press conference on Tuesday. "[But] You'll have to ask (sporting director Andoni) Zubizarreta.

"If a defensive midfielder arrives the needs of the team will be resolved. If one arrives I will be satisfied."

Room will need to be made for any new signing and that means Hleb is set to leave either permanently or on loan this season, along with youth product Victor Sanchez and Uruguay defender Martin Caceres.

"We'll have to find a way out for Hleb, Caceres and Victor Sanchez because if they stay, they will not take part very much,'' Guardiola said.


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