Hodgson sets deadline for Mascherano move to Barça

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Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson yesterday gave Barcelona a deadline of Sunday if they are to sign midfielder Javier Mascherano. The Argentina international was not in the squad that lost 3-0 to Manchester City on Monday night, and will play no part in tonight's Europa League second leg tie with Trabzonspor in Turkey.

However Hodgson said he is not willing to allow the current stalemate to continue and said he wants Mascherano's future decided before Liverpool host West Bromwich Albion on Sunday. Liverpool have already rejected a £16m offer from the Spanish champions saying their valuation of the 26-year-old is far higher at around £25m.

Hodgson said: "The negotiations between the clubs are ongoing. I would not want to risk any transfer by playing him [against Trabzonspor]. I would not want to force him into a game that could ruin his transfer.

"But I am seriously hoping that in the next couple of days this will be sorted out one way or another. I don't know which way that will go. But I do need to know if he is going to be a Liverpool player or not this season. By Sunday I should know one way or another if he is going to play for Liverpool or Barcelona." Hodgson hopes to have a new left-back at the club shortly, with a £3.5m move for Fulham's Paul Konchesky a real possibility. Alberto Aquilani completed his season-long loan to Juventus yesterday with the view to a £13m transfer next summer, while fringe striker Krisztian Nemeth has joined Greek club Olympiakos.

Hodgson's most pressing concern however is tonight's trip to Turkey, where he will be without Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Daniel Agger and Maxi Rodriguez. Gerrard is struggling with a back problem while Torres will not be risked in a third successive game following his injury problems last year.

Agger has concussion and Rodriguez has a bug as Liverpool attempt to defend their 1-0 lead. Hodgson said: "Steven Gerrard has had a recurrence of the back problem which he gets from time to time. Hopefully it won't stop him playing on Sunday.

"With Fernando Torres we've made the decision that we don't wish to risk him three games in a row at this stage of the season with him having done so well to get back this quickly."

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