Liverpool are reportedly negotiating a deal to sign Real Madrid midfielder Mahamadou Diarra.
The 29-year-old is thought to be on the periphery of the Spanish side's squad under Jose Mourinho, and new Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has lined-up the Malian international as a replacement for Javier Mascherano should he leave Anfield.
Diarra began his senior football career at Greek side OFI, making his debut as a teenager in 1998. A move to Vitesse in Holland came the following season, with the defensive central midfielder spending three years at the Eredivisie club.
Lyon would sign the player in 2002, and Diarra was a revelation in Ligue 1 during his four years at the club. Four consecutive league titles emphasised the point, with manager Gerard Houllier placing a €40 million price tag in his head.
However, Real Madrid's €26 million offer was too good to turn down and Diarra left Les Gones in 2006.
After originally starring at the Bernabeu, Diarra has slowly fallen down the pecking order following a serious knee injury and the signing of Lassana Diarra.
Madrid's Sporting Director hinted last week that a host of non-Spanish stars could leave the club after yet more additions this summer, and Diarra's agent has hinted that a move to the Premier League could suit the player.
"Mahmadou is still a top player and he can do a great job in the Premier League. There is a lot of interest," said Frederic Guerra.
Spanish paper AS reports that the Reds have begun negotiations with an emissary on behalf of Real Madrid with a view to signing Diarra before the close of the transfer window.
With Argentine Mascherano reportedly refusing to take part in the defeat against Manchester City, his exit would appear imminent. The cash from any sale could then be spent on a move for Diarra, who would set the Anfield club back in the region of £7 million.
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