Javier Mascherano has spoken glowingly of his admiration for Barcelona - cranking up the pressure on Liverpool to offer him an improved contract.
Rafael Benitez is determined to keep the midfielder from Barca's clutches, but it is suggested the Barclays Premier League club will have to double his £30,000 a week wages to keep the Argentina captain happy.
Nou Camp boss Pep Guardiola has identified Mascherano as the perfect addition to a stellar midfield that includes Andres Iniesta and Xavi, but the their £20million valuation is nowhere near the prohibitive £50m which Liverpool are understood to have quoted to Barca and Manchester City.
Real Madrid have also been linked to the 25-year-old and Mascherano told Spanish magazine Don Balon the interest was 'a great compliment'.
He added: 'For me it represents a great recognition because we are talking about big clubs.