Liverpool ponder player-plus-cash deal for Mascherano

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Liverpool are set to be offered a player-plus-cash deal for Javier Mascherano as Barcelona intensify their pursuit of the Argentine midfielder.

Mascherano has been heavily linked with a move away from Anfield, with old boss Rafael Benitez the original favourite to take the 26-year-old to Inter Milan from Liverpool.

However, Barca recently emerged as front-runners when the Italian giants ruling themselves out of a move. The Catalan club are keen to make a defensive midfielder addition following the sale of Yaya Toure, and Mascherano would fit the bill perfectly were it not for the €20 million asking price.

The La Liga giants do not want to part with such money for the player, and will hope to twist Roy Hodgson's arm with an exchange that involves former Arsenal midfielder Alex Hleb.

Spanish papers report that Josep Guardiola will make his move this summer, and Mundo Deportivo suggests that Barca will offer €9.5 million plus midfielder Hleb in a bid to secure the services of the former West Ham United midfielder.

Belarus international Hleb recently enjoyed success on loan at Stuttgart and was highly-regarded during his time with the Gunners. Life at the Nou Camp has been less enjoyable for the 29-year-old, and a move could reinvigorate the player's club career.

Horacio Zandonadi, Mascherano's representative in Spain, fueled the fire saying: "The player would love to hear from Barca." Hodgson has made it clear he won't be forced into selling a player, but the addition of an international player plus money could be appealing to the former Fulham boss.

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