By Wayne Veysey | Chief correspondent
Javier Mascherano’s agent today admitted the midfielder is unlikely to move to Barcelona as a switch to Inter grows more likely.
The Argentina captain has been heavily linked with a potential £25 million transfer to the Nou Camp after he announced his intention to leave Liverpool.
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But Horacio Zandonadi, Mascherano’s representative in Spain, has told Goal.com UK that there are “problems” with his potential transfer to Barcelona.
Zandonadi said: “It will be difficult now for Mascherano to sign for Barcelona. There are some problems.”
This statement echoes words from Barca's sporting director Andoni Zubizaretta who stated yesterday that the battler does not "fit into our season plan".
Speaking to Spanish publication Sport he said: “There is still nothing with [Javier] Mascherano, in fact he is a player who does not fit into our season plan."
That leaves Mascherano running out of escape routes – with a reunion with former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez at Inter seemingly his only way out of Anfield.
Liverpool are yet to receive a formal offer for the 26-year-old and Inter president Massimo Moratti recently baulked at the £25m asking price.
However, the European champions now have the cash available to bid for Mascherano following Mario Balotelli’s £24m switch to Manchester City. It is also understood that Inter’s imminent signing of Genoa midfielder Giuseppe Sculli will not block a deal for the Argentine star.
It is believed Barcelona could not agree on the terms of the deal with Liverpool, with Reds boss Roy Hodgson unwilling to accept a proposal of £12m plus former Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb.
There were also question marks over the Spanish giants’ need for a top quality defensive midfielder following Sergio Busquets’ impressive performances for club and country last season.
After the Catalans’ failure to land Fabregas, new Barcelona president Sandro Rosell is eager to land a world class signing, but coach Pep Guardiola does not see signing Mascherano as a priority and would rather invest the money elsewhere.
Hodgson has revealed he is still hopeful of keeping Mascherano, who played in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal and is expected to feature against Turkish side Trabzonspor on Thursday if he recovers from an ankle knock.
Nevertheless, a gentleman’s agreement remains in place that Liverpool will let the player leave should they receive an acceptable bid.
Speculation of a move to Inter will grow with the news that Barcelona’s interest has cooled.
Benitez is a huge fan of Mascherano, who he initially loaned from West Ham United in February 2007 before making the move permanent a year later.
Mascherano has cited personal reasons as his main motivation for wanting to push through a deal to leave Anfield, where he maintains a strong relationship with the supporters.