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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

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Aug 26, 2010

Inter back in Mascherano race

Inter have re-entered the bidding for Javier Mascherano as Barcelona struggle to meet Liverpool's asking price.

Sneijder urges Inter to sign Kuyt

Mascherano, 26, is desperate to leave Anfield this summer and refused to play against Manchester City on Monday as he seeks to force through a transfer.

Barca are known to be keen on the player, with boss Pep Guardiola saying this week: "I will speak about him when he's here - if he comes. If a defensive midfielder arrives, the needs of the team will be resolved. If one arrives, I will be satisfied."

However, Roy Hodgson said their opening bid - reported to be between £12 million and £16 million - has fallen "way, way below" Liverpool's valuation. Hodgson confirmed that the player was not included in the Europa League squad to face Trabzonspor on Thursday as talks with Barca were ongoing.

"He isn't here because the negotiations are on-going between the two clubs," Hodgson said. "If he played against Trabzonspor it might prejudice the transfer and I don't wish to do anything like that to the player. I'm hoping in the next couple of days things will be sorted one way or another but I have no idea which way that will be."

Hodgson is refusing to rule out the possibility that the player will stay at Liverpool while the negotiations continue, though, and said that, by Sunday, "I should know one way or another whether he is going to play for Liverpool this season or Barcelona".

Lionel Messi, who plays alongside Mascherano for Argentina, has reportedly told Liverpool that they must allow him to move to Camp Nou. "Javier won't play for the club again, I can assure you of that, and I think the Liverpool coach knows that now," he is quoted as saying in the Daily Express. "Javier's family are unhappy and the pressure of seeing that is making him depressed. Liverpool must act humanely and let him go."

Inter, though, have now announced that they have made a bid for the midfielder. Hodgson had announced that Inter president Massimo Moratti had ruled out an approach for any Liverpool players but, following his comments about Inter's interest in Dirk Kuyt, sporting director Marco Branca has confirmed that the European champions have made an approach for Mascherano.

"I sent an offer to Liverpool by fax on Tuesday and am waiting for a reply from them," Branca said in the Sun newspaper. "We're not speaking to the player at the moment because we want to do this in the right way and make sure that Liverpool are happy.

"Everybody knows that Mascherano would like to change team and to change country. He also has a good relationship with our manager Rafa Benitez. We've made a very good offer, around the amount they are asking for. We have a strong team here, the best in Europe, but we would like to add one or two players to make us even stronger."

It appears Inter have identified an alternative option should the bid fail, though. Juventus and Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio said on his Facebook account that he was "pessimistic" about his chances of securing a new deal in Turin and his agent has said Inter are considering a bid.

"Both [Juve boss] Gigi Del Neri and [sporting director] Beppe Marotta have said he is not for sale and the coach wants to make him the new captain," Carlo Pallavicino told Radio Radio. "However, it should also be said that the interest on behalf of Inter is real.

"Marco Branca called Marotta and during the conversation over Nicolas Burdisso he asked about Marchisio, who as I said was not for sale. Benitez really likes Claudio and pin-pointed him as the alternative to Javier Mascherano in midfield."

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