After spending six seasons at Liverpool complaining about a lack of transfer funds it now appears that Inter Milan boss Rafael Benitez wants his successor Roy Hodgson to work within similar restrictions and restraints. If, as reported, Benitez is genuinely interested in bringing his former midfield general Javier Mascherano to the San Siro then he certainly isn’t doing his old club any favours by concluding a quick deal for the Argentine. The saga has dragged on throughout the summer with Benitez allowing tensions to rise between the player and manager, waiting for the right to make his move.
Ironically, it’s Benitez who now has the power to increase The Reds’ transfer budget should he choose to table a massive offer for the club’s tenacious No.20. Liverpool are still eager to make two additional signings before the end of the transfer window but need to raise funds from the sale of Argentine Mascherano to do so. Hodgson still hopes to conclude deals for a left-back and a striker but currently has a lack of transfer funds until a takeover bid is concluded. The former West Ham player’s replacement has already arrived at Anfield in the form of Christian Poulsen from Juventus, with the club making contingency plans in the event of Mascherano’s expected departure. Although Hodgson has since claimed the Scandinavian is not a direct replacement for Masch.
In truth the expected bidding war between I Nerazzurri and fellow suitors Barcelona has failed to materialise, with the club yet to receive an offer for the player. It leaves the defensive midfielder facing an embarrassing climb down after refusing to return Hodgson’s calls over the summer and demanding a move upon returning to pre-season training. The club’s £30m price tag on the player seems to have scared off the two European heavyweights and Mascherano could find himself kicking his heels at Anfield for another season. Either way Hodgson wants the situation resolved as soon as possible.
Hodgson said: “We want to keep him here and we will keep him here unless an offer comes along that is correct.
“As yet we haven’t had any offers. At the moment it’s not there, it’s not even on the horizon. If all these clubs are interested it would be nice if they contacted Liverpool one day.”
Italian striker Mario Balotelli’s £24m move to Eastlands may speed up negotiations between the two sides and free up the funds for Inter to make a formal bid for the ball-winning midfielder. Developments are expected this week but negotiations could rumble on for a while yet should the clubs fail to agree on the player’s valuation. It leaves Hodgson facing a race against time to add the final touches to his squad before the transfer deadline on August 31.
If the two clubs are unable to agree on the proposed transfer then Hodgson will be content with keeping hold of one of the most gifted holding midfielders in the game. It would provide another major boost for the club following club captain Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres committing their future to Liverpool over the summer. While nothing gets away from Mascherano’s desire to leave the club, he was one of the best players on the park in Liverpool’s Premier League opener against Arsenal, providing the pass for young striker David N’Gog’s second-half strike. The 26-year-old has expressed his desire to do his best for the club until his future is decided and will continue to give his all in a red shirt. Should Hodgson fail to receive funds from the player’s sale then he will hope a completed takeover will increase his funds before the window closes.
Benitez doesn’t owe Liverpool any favours, especially following his acrimonious departure from the club. But his refusal to make an official approach for the player or to rule himself out of the move has left The Reds facing an uncertain few weeks in the transfer market. The saga will be resolved one way or another by the end of the month and Liverpool may just have the strength and tenacity to hang onto their star midfield anchorman and convince him he can still have a future at Anfield.