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Premier League

Barcelona to test Liverpool's Mascherano resolve

Barcelona are set to launch a £25m bid for Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano, according to reports today.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has been resolute in his desire to hold on to the Argentina international, but reports from Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportiva allege he had given Barcelona permission to make an offer.

Benitez has in the past said he would not sell the midfield general for £50m.

Barcelona appear to be stepping up their efforts to bring in the 25-year-old, who they see as the perfect foil for Xavi and Andres Iniesta in the European Champions' midfield.

Liverpool also have a fight on their hands to hold on to Xabi Alonso, who continues to be linked with a move to Real Madrid.