Benitez faces struggle to keep Mascherano out of Barca's clutches
Rafa Benitez is struggling to hang on to unsettled midfielder Javier Mascherano in a new blow that further compounds the financial crisis engulfing Anfield. Already reeling from mounting debts that are hampering plans for strengthening his Liverpool squad, Benitez is now facing an uphill struggle to keep Mascherano from Barcelona's clutches. The Argentina skipper's wife, who is currently back home in South America, has struggled to settle on Merseyside. And Mascherano feels he has fallen behind others on pay after a recent round of rises at Anfield. Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola has discussed a £22million move for Mascherano, 25 on Monday. As Benitez braces himself for another raid on his Liverpool squad in the wake of Real Madrid's £20m bid for Xabi Alonso, he canonly hope takeover talks involving Indian company GMR come to fruition and rescue his transfer strategy. With Gareth Barry lost to Manchester City and Valencia winger David Silva reportedly in talks with Real Madrid, he appears to be relying on beating Chelsea to Portsmouth right back Glen Johnson for any sort of significant breakthrough. Even then, a £15m-plus asking price would wipe out his budget, unless GMR, who hold the franchise for the Delhi Daredevils cricket team in the Indian Premier League, buy out co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. They may be in for some hard bargaining, though, after the under-fire Americans adopted a defiant stance over claims from the club's auditors that there was 'significant doubt' over the ability of parent company Kop Football (Holdings) Ltd tocontinue as a going concern. Hicks and Gillett dismissed the warning, as 'accountancy speak' and insisted that, even with a £77m increase to £359m, Liverpool's level of debt was lower than the rest of the Barclays Premier League's top four. They reiterated their determination not only to meet a July 24 deadline for refinancing but to push through plans for a 73,000- capacity stadium at nearby Stanley Park.
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