The claim comes from TeamTalk, suggesting that Barcelona have made contact to offer a ‘first refusal’ on Mascherano, meaning the Reds would have the option to strike a deal for the 33-year-old enforcer before any other club gets the chance.
Any fee would apparently be ‘nominal’ and the implication is that Barcelona hope that the gesture will serve to smooth the bumps that have developed in the relationship between the two clubs as a result of the Philippe Coutinho transfer saga.
It may be that Barcelona see this as a way to make Liverpool more agreeable when negotiating a possible deal for Coutinho in the future, but the report also makes it clear that there is no direct connection between Masherano and the Brazilian.
Manager Jurgen Klopp is said to be considering the proposal, with Liverpool’s defence still the club’s major Achilles heel this season after conceding 17 goals in 12 Premier League games and throwing away a three-goal lead in the Champions League just this week.
Mascherano, who has won four La Liga titles, four Copa del Reys, two Champions Leagues and two FIFA Club World Cups since joining Barcelona from Liverpool, was of course a holding midfielder during his first spell at Anfield between 2007 and 2010.
It was only after he moved to Spain that he dropped back into a centre-back role.