Liverpool seek victory and Javier Mascherano from West Ham United tonight, and their manager, Rafael Benitez, has revealed that his club will pursue a legal challenge to sign the Argentine provided Fifa has not decided on the player's future by the end of the transfer window.
Liverpool have agreed personal terms plus an 18-month loan deal with representatives of the 23-year-old midfielder - the Media Sports Investment group founded by the former Hammers' suitor Kia Joorabchian - but have been unable to complete the deal on account of the Fifa ruling that prevents a player appearing for three clubs between 1 July and 30 June the following year.
Fifa, football's world governing body, is considering Liverpool's argument - that precedents exist on the three-club rule, that he is no longer wanted by West Ham (for whom he has played six minutes since October) and that it would represent a restraint of trade to prevent him appearing at Anfield - but has not confirmed when the Mascherano case will be heard.
Despite this, Anfield officials remain hopeful of a breakthrough before tomorrow's deadline and are prepared to continue their fight to employ Mascherano this season should a favourable decision come outside the window.
"We are confident, but all we can do now is wait," Benitez said. "Maybe in five days we will have a solution, but Fifa needs to decide before the transfer window. If they cannot decide before, they must give us the possibility to sign him afterwards. Fifa knew about this situation 15 or 20 days before the deadline, and if they know the window is closing they have to make a decision."
Benitez said one option could be for West Ham to end Mascherano's contract and allow him to leave as a free agent.
The Liverpool manager also believes the former Corinthians midfielder can flourish in the Premiership. "West Ham are a fantastic club but maybe it wasn't the right club for him," he said. "Maybe Liverpool can be a better option for him because we can speak in Spanish to him and we play a different style of football."
Everton's move for the Benfica midfielder Manuel Fernandes hit a snag last night as the Premier League refused to allow the move to proceed. The hitch is believed to concern Everton's proposal to take him on loan for six months.
West Ham are chasing a central defender and a striker before the window closes. They want Matthew Upson from Birmingham but appear unwilling to increase their offer of £7.5m. The Hammers have also inquired about the Danish international Michael Gravgaard, 28, and are believed to have offered £2.5m.
The West Ham striker Dean Ashton has suffered a fresh injury setback, after he needed an injection to solve a complication in his recovery from a broken ankle. It is expected it will be at least five more weeks before the 23-year-old can play for the first team.Reuse content