Mascherano nears Mersey go-ahead

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The Independent Online

The capture of Javier Mascherano offered only minimal consolation on a day of turmoil for Liverpool but their manager, Rafael Benitez, last night insisted the Argentine would overcome his fraught introduction into English football and justify the club's legal dispute with Fifa.

Mascherano received clearance to complete his Anfield move yesterday when world football's governing body relented on its ruling that prevents a player appearing competitively for three clubs between 31 July and 30 June the following year. Fifa accepted Liverpool's argument that, as Mascherano played for Corinthians before West Ham United and the South American seasons overlap with those in Europe, the Argentine was entitled to special dispensation.

With the Premier League expected to follow suit by registering the midfielder's 18-month loan deal despite reservations over the issue of player ownership, the 23-year-old can now commence the task of restoring a reputation that has deteriorated since the heady days of the World Cup finals in Germany last summer.

Benitez was also awaiting completion on deals for Deportivo La Coruña's £2.6m-rated right-back, Alvaro Arbeloa, and the teenage Malaga midfielder Francis Duran last night.

Everton were finally granted permission by the Premier League to register Manuel Fernandes on loan from Benfica until the end of the season, after the Goodison Park club dropped their claim to sign the former Portsmouth midfielder on a permanent basis in the summer.

The former Everton and England international left-back Michael Ball has joined Manchester City on a permanent transfer from PSV Eindhoven until the end of the season.

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