Not for sale: Rafa Benitez heads off Manchester City and Barcelona bids to buy Javier Mascherano
10 June 2009 12:10
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Rafa Benitez insists Javier Mascherano is not for sale at any price in an attempt to shoot down interest from Barcelona and Manchester City.
Sportsmail understands that City were alerted to the Liverpool midfielder's possible availability when Barcelona showed their hand with a £22m approach.
Liverpool indicated they would be looking for a whopping £50m, scuppering a move to either side, and now Benitez insists no offers will be welcome.
'Mascherano has no price,' said the Anfield boss. 'Barcelona could not afford to match his value to Liverpool Football Club. We do not want to sell and Javier is very happy here.
'I have spoken to Javier two or three times this summer - the last time was only last week - and he was very happy, very positive.'
The Spaniard hit back after the 25-year-old's agent Walter Tamer said Mascherano would 'obviously say yes' to a move to the Nou Camp.
Benitez said: 'He (Mascherano) gave me the private number of his agent and, again, the conversation was very positive and was all about football.
'Walter told me that two clubs with big, big names were asking after Mascherano - and I told him to forget it, that Javier was happy in Liverpool and he was not for sale.
'So I was surprised to see the agent's comments today. He has a long contract and any club can forget about bidding for him. They can offer £40m or even £50m, we don't want to sell.'
Benitez is also defiant in the battle to hold on to Xabi Alonso. City are again interested, though Real Madrid are determined to land the Spain midfielder and have already made a £20m approach.
However, Spanish newspaper AS says Benitez is demanding £43m plus Madrid academy graduates Carlos Bueno and Alvaro Negredo.
The latter is currently at Almeria, though Madrid have an option to re-sign him for £4.3m.