Mascherano linked with Anfield departure

Argentina captain Javier Mascherano has reportedly told Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson of his desire to quit Anfield for Inter Milan, following talks about his future on Monday.

The 25-year-old fell off the grid following his country's World Cup quarter-final thrashing by Germany in South Africa, leaving Hodgson frustrated in his attempts to contact the combative defensive midfielder as he holidayed with his family in Miami.

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And following his return to Liverpool's Melwood training base yesterday, Mascherano has told Hodgson of his wish to complete a move to Italian and European champions Inter Milan before the season kicks off in under three weeks time.

"The talks were extremely amicable. It was all done in a very nice way. Javier made it clear that he wanted to leave a year ago when he had the chance to go to Barcelona," a source told ESPN.

"He was asked to stay on for one more year [last year], he agreed, so now it is time for him to go. It was all very pleasant and it is now a question of the two clubs who are interested in him making an acceptable offer to Liverpool."

Mascherano reportedly told Hodgson that he wants to be reunited with Rafa Benitez, who ended his West Ham nightmare by taking him to Anfield in an £18 million deal in 2007 and succeeded Jose Mourinho as boss of Inter last month.

But despite opening discussions with the Anfield club over a new £100,000-a-week contract earlier this year, Benitez's departure at the end of last season seemed to have made up Mascherano's mind.

However, any deal seems to rest on Inter striker Mario Balotelli completing his £25 million switch to Manchester City with the Nerazzurri struggling to raise the cash to launch a bid now.

But Barcelona, who lost holding midfielder Yaya Toure to Manchester City earlier this month, could renew their interest having chased the Argentine's signature last summer.

By James Martini

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