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Premier League

Guardiola quiet on Mascherano transfer

Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano's future lies in the hands of Barcelona after manager Roy Hodgson admitted the situation was "uncomfortable" for the Merseysiders.

The Argentina captain was left out of the squad for last night's 3-0 Barclays Premier League defeat to Manchester City after the Reds rejected a bid, believed to be about £16million, from the Catalans.

Hodgson said the 26-year-old's head "was not right", with reports in Spain suggesting the Primera Division champions have already agreed personal terms on a four-year, £85,000-a-week contract.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has admitted he is in the market for a defensive midfielder but refused to comment on Mascherano.

But Hodgson insists the club is unwilling to budge on their valuation of a player rescued from West Ham's reserves for £18million three-and-a-half years ago.

"His head is being turned by Barcelona, who are making overtures to him and telling him they want him," said the Liverpool manager.

"Unfortunately the fee they are offering is way, way below our valuation.

"But that does not make the player any happier because he is not interested in the justice of the fee, he just wants to move and it makes it uncomfortable for us."

Mascherano attended the club's Melwood training ground today but Hodgson hinted last night he would not pick the player again until the situation was resolved or the transfer window closed.

However, it seems inconceivable the Argentinian will still be on Merseyside by the beginning of September, having been angling for a move for a year.

Mascherano has complained his family have not settled in England and wants a move for that reason, and his case has been strengthened by an agreement struck last season when he was told by the club if they received an acceptable offer he could go.

His presence will only be a distraction and a disruption but Liverpool will run the risk of keeping an unhappy player as they are determined to hold out for Mascherano's true market value.

Barcelona coach Guardiola would not discuss the player when asked about a potential transfer.

"I will speak about him when he's here - if he comes," he said.

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

When asked whether a deal was close Guardiola added: "You'll have to ask (sporting director Andoni) Zubizarreta."

Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge believes there is still time for Hodgson to benefit from the sale of Mascherano, despite the transfer window closing in a week.

"There is no real panic for me but it is important to sort out the Mascherano thing," he said.

"Then Roy can get a few players in, two proper players for what you get [for Mascherano] and let's hope he can do that.

"But only he (Hodgson) knows what he's got to spend."