Liverpool dealt big blow in the race to sign Barcelona star

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Liverpool's hopes of completing a deal to sign Spain international Cristian Tello this month appear to have been extinguished.

According to Spanish newspaper Marca, the 22-year-old will not be leaving Barcelona in January and the club have answered any interest in the starlet with a resounding no as they hope to keep him until at least the end of the current season.

The same publication suggests that the reason for such an authoritative stance stems from the fact that Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino wishes to retain the depth to his squad in order to avoid having to rely on unproven youngsters in the event of an injury crisis.

Liverpool, whose own squad has been exposed as somewhat threadbare in recent weeks after a number of fitness problems sustained by Brendan Rodgers' side, were linked with a potential loan swoop for Tello earlier this week.

Just yesterday, it appeared that bookmakers Skybet had made Liverpool favourites - ahead of the likes of La Liga outfit Valencia - to bring the versatile attacker to Anfield prior to the close of the winter transfer window. 

Tello, who has been at Barcelona since returning to the Camp Nou in 2010, appears to be some way down in Martino's pecking order and has made just 10 appearances in the league so far this season.

However, it would appear that the player will have to accept his bit-part role for the time being.

Liverpool and Rodgers, meanwhile, must now move on to other targets in what is sure to be a typically frantic month.

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