Benitez Tightens Stranglehold Over Want Away Masch

With various Argentina internationals such as Lucho Gonzalez, Lisandro Lopez, and Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano looks to be the latest to leave his current club in search of greener pastures. Argentina’s captain has stated that his wife has not settled in Merseyside and would prefer to remain in Argentina rather than move back to Liverpool. Mascherano has also made it clear that he is an admirer of Barcelona, while the Blaugrana President Joan Laporta has since said that the feeling is mutual. How good would Javier look wearing the famous shirt of Barcelona worn by some of the all-time giants of the game: Kubala, Cruyff, Maradona, Romario, Ronaldo, and of course Messi, just to name a few. Messi himself has recently made a plea for his friend and international colleague to join him at the Nou Camp, stating: “I hope Mascherano can come and we can form a solid partnership.” Even Sergio Busquets, who plays a similar role, said he would welcome the former West Ham man to Barca.

Could the Olympic Gold Medalists be reunited at the Camp Nou prior to a World Cup run? Not if Rafa has anything to say about it.

Could the Olympic Gold Medalists be reunited at the Camp Nou prior to a World Cup run? Not if Rafa has anything to say about it.

Having two of Argentina’s biggest stars on the same pitch competing against Real Madrid’s “Galacticos” is appealing to any Argentina fan, while seeing Mascherano sit behind Xavi and Andres Iniesta would be fantastic for Barca supporters as well as boss Josep Guardiola. It seems like a match made for everyone, except Rafa Benitez. Liverpool came so close to winning the title last season, but have only been able to strengthen his squad with the purchase of the ridiculously overpriced Glenn Johnson for 18 million pounds from Portsmouth. Liverpool are also hit by financial troubles of late, and American owners George Gillet and Tom Hicks may want to cash in on Mascherano and Xabi Alonso, but losing both central midfielders would be catastrophic for Rafa. The financial situation could make it very difficult for the club to sign many more big names, which would make Masch and Alonso almost impossible to replace, although Esteban Cambiaso, another Argentina international, as been linked with the club.

Benitez has made it clear that he would like to hold on to both players, and that they “owe” both him and the club. Although Benitez clearly saved Masch from a disastrous situation at West Ham, few can argue that Barcelona has been a home to many Argentine players who have settled well in the Catalan capital, while fewer Argentinos have settled in the industrious Northwest of England. The prospect of playing for the best team in the World ,as well as keeping his wife happy, makes Barca an ideal place for any player, but Rafe must budge first.

Unfortunately for the former River Plate star, his fate may also rest on the future of Alonso, who is creeping ever closer to a move to the Santiago Bernabeu as the latest Galactico. Benitez has also gone as far as to say that he would not sell Masch for any less then 40 million euros. The club are apparently also willing to pay him triple his current salary to keep him at the Anfield outfit. Clearly Benitez is doing all he can to keep hold of Mascherano, especially since Alonso has one foot inside the Bernabeu door. The loss of Alonso will be enough of a blow, especially after Benitez failed to sign Gareth Barry, who went to Manchester City.

Unfortunately, it looks like Mascherano, who is set to meet up with the club on Thursday in Switzerland, will remain in England this season. It would certainly be a dream to see Masch and Messi on the same team, but unless Rafa loosens his grip over the hard man, Masch will again be wearing a red number 20 shirt this season.

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