Hodgson still holding onto Mascherano

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MANCHESTER, August 24 – Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson insists Javier Mascherano will not move to Barcelona unless the Spanish giants offer the fee the Merseyside club feel he is worth.Argentina captain Mascherano was left out of Liverpool’s 3-0 Premie League loss away to Manchester City on Monday because, Hodgson said, "his head was not right".

Mascherano is desperate to leave Liverpool because his family have failed to settle on Merseyside and he is understood to be keen to move to Spain.

But Hodgson said the player, who is rated in the 25 million pounds bracket by his club, would have to serve the remaining two years on his contract unless a club came up with the right money.

Barcelona have opened talks with Liverpool about Mascherano, who is one game short of making his 100th career Premier League appearance.

But Hodgson said: "His head has been turned by the offer from Barcelona. Discussions between Barcelona and ourselves are being held at a high level. This matter has developed in the last couple of days.

"There’s plenty of interest in him but our position remains the same – until we get an offer that matches our valuation we won’t sell.

"I’m sure it’ll be sorted one way or another soon. If Barcelona don’t match our valuation he will stay with us.

"Hopefully matters will be resolved by the end of the transfer window and I might be able to pick him again. We are very, very far apart and unless that can be resolved he may be unhappy for a long time to come.

"Did we miss Mascherano (against City)? I thought Lucas played very well.

"We defended poorly for the goals."

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini was delighted with his side’s performance in front of the club’s owner Sheikh Mansour.

It was the first time Mansour had visited Eastlands to watch City since buying the club two years ago.

Carlos Tevez scored twice, one from the penalty spot, while Gareth Barry also found the net during an impressive City performance.

But Mancini insists big-spending City can get even better.

"We are at the beginning of a new season and there are some strange results," City’s Italian boss said. "We need to improve and work well.

"I hope the sheikh comes every week from now on after that. Will I celebrate with the owner? No, I don’t have time and I’m very tired.

"It was important the players played very well. We needed to win and believe in ourselves."

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