Transfer Talk: Barcelona ready to make their move for Mascherano

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Barcelona will this week try to send Zlatan Ibrahimovic on loan back to Italy and complete the signing of Liverpool's Javier Mascherano. The Argentine midfielder's close friend Leo Messi has backed the signing and no one's opinion currently carries more weight at the Nou Camp than the man who scored 47 goals last season in all competitions and hit a hat-trick on Saturday to land Barça's first piece of silverware of the new season in the Spanish Super Cup.

While Messi was scoring three in the 4-0 win over Seville, Ibrahimovic was an unused substitute and the Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola, said afterwards: "I prefer that we have a small squad in which everyone can play a part," hinting that Ibrahimovic would be allowed to move to Milan on loan if the deal can be pushed through this week.

David Villa made his Barcelona debut in the victory, coming on as a second-half substitute. Ibrahimovic looked on as every other Barcelona forward was given playing time in the second-leg comeback that followed Seville's first-leg 3-1 win in Spain's two-legged equivalent of the Community Shield.

Ibrahimovic was not even told to warm-up during the victory and Guardiola said after the game that he had left the Swede out for "football reasons". The Barcelona coach also said another player would be joining this week, with sources close to the club saying that Mascherano is the player the coach has requested.

West Ham are unlikely to pursue the Everton forward Yakubu Ayegbeni. The Hammers have reportedly been monitoring the 27-year-old, who netted five goals in 25 Premier League appearances last season on Merseyside.

"We have cooled on Yakubu," revealed the West Ham co-owner David Sullivan. "When you have a good, hard look at him, we want younger and quicker and better [players]."

Everton are reportedly holding out for £8m for the Nigerian forward.

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