Arsenal and Liverpool have suffered a setback in their alleged pursuit of Marcos Rojo after the Sporting Lisbon defender admitted he would like to play for Barcelona. The Catalan giants have also been linked with a move for the Argentina international and now look to be clear favourites to secure his signature.
TalkSPORT reports that the 24-year-old has not been distracted by recent speculation regarding his future and insists that he won't make any transfer decisions until after the World Cup this summer.
Brendan Rodgers has been monitoring Rojo for a number of months as he weighs up a bid to bring the South American star to Anfield ahead of Liverpool's return to the Champions League next season.
The Reds boss is eager to strengthen his first-team squad, and having already captured the likes of Rickie Lambert and Emre Can his attention is now firmly on defensive reinforcements with the centre-back identified as a suitable acquisition.
Rojo's versatility is an attractive attribute with the defender operating as a centre-back for his club and at left-back for his country, meaning he could prove to be a value for money addition capable of filling a variety of different positions across Liverpool's back line.
After failing to reach an agreement with Sevilla over the transfer of Spanish full-back Alberto Moreno, the Merseyside club are now hopeful of securing the Sporting Lisbon star's services later this summer.
What about Arsenal?
Arsenal could yet rival Liverpool for Rojo with Arsene Wenger also credited with an interest in the player as he continues his search for new signings to bring to the Emirates Stadium.
With Thomas Vermaelen's future shrouded in doubt there might be an opening for a new centre-back to challenge Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny for a place in the Gunners' starting line-up next season and the Argentine could be the man for the job.
Spain: Win or bust
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However, both Arsenal and Liverpool will have to convince Rojo that his future would be better served at their respective clubs rather than at Barcelona after he sounded out the possibility of joining international team-mate Lionel Messi at Camp Nou.
Luis Enrique is said to be keen on him as is Paris Saint-Germain boss Laurent Blanc who could present the player with another opportunity at Parc des Princes in 2014/15.
"Clearly I did things well in the last year in Europe, and later I will see what will happen with my future," Rojo told Spanish newspaper Sport. "Obviously I'd like to play for Barcelona, but I still haven't spoken to Leo [Messi] about anything to do with it.
"I don't know anything, only what is said in the media. I am calm and have my mind focused on the World Cup."