Javier Mascherano's agents are "sounding out" a potential Premier League return after the player "opened the door" for a £9 million second stint with Liverpool.
John Cross of the Mirror suggests competition could be fierce for the 29-year-old's signature:
Argentinian midfielder Mascherano is on Napoli's hit-list but had a happy time at Anfield before leaving for Barca, where he no longer fits into their plans.
Mascherano, who believes he may have already played his final game for the Spanish giants, said: "It could be the last for many players."
Mascherano confirmed "Liverpool is a special club" in February, while suggesting he failed to establish a positive relationship with Roy Hodgson and Christian Purslow before exiting for the Camp Nou in 2010. Although both the former manager and old managing director have now left, Mascherano said "they know the truth," per Sky Sports.
While his departure may have been less than amicable, Mascherano's return would galvanise a Liverpool squad that is currently nursing wounds from a heartbreaking title race. Brendan Rodgers' side looked to be on for their first Premier League triumph before the 2-0 home loss to Chelsea handed Manchester City the initiative, something they didn't let slip.
Mascherano is part of a Barcelona team that, somehow, remains in the running to win La Liga. Despite grabbing three points just twice from their last five league matches, a win against Atletico Madrid on the last day of the season can confirm Gerardo Martino's men as unlikely champions. Both Atletico and Real Madrid have also struggled in recent weeks, with the latter now unable to take the domestic title.
Martino has deployed Mascherano in a centre-back's role throughout the campaign, something Rodgers would be unlikely to replicate at Liverpool. He doesn't possess the height and powerful bulk of defenders such as Mamadou Sakho and Martin Skrtel, whose physical attributes currently define Rodgers' back four.
Mascherano patrolled the Reds' midfield during his spell with the club, where his short-passing game and workhorse style often dominated alongside the grace of Xabi Alonso. He could offer a battle-ready alternative to Jordan Henderson, whose form has been much improved this season.
The Argentinian's arrival would likely see Lucas Leiva or Joe Allen struggle for consistent first-team football, but it would significantly improve Liverpool's strength-in-depth.
His experience of winning the Champions League with Barcelona could enhance the chances of a young side who are heading into next season's elite European competition, and he would lift some leadership responsibility from Steven Gerrard's shoulders.
Before any move, a pivotal summer awaits for the former West Ham player. Mascherano is likely to be key during Argentina's attempts to land the 2014 World Cup, a tournament which sees the South Americans come under considerable pressure in Brazil.
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