As soon as Liverpool’s midfield enforcer and Argentine captain Javier Mascherano returned to Liverpool’s Melwood training facility, they seem destined to lose him.
Having been completely out of contact since Argentina’s exit from the World Cup, rumours have been flying around that Mascherano wanted to call it quits on his Liverpool career and was looking for a reunion with former Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez at Inter Milan.
Roy Hodgson, having finally been able to speak to the Argentine, it seems has not been able to convince Mascherano that his plans for the club are inspiring enough.
Although it is more likely that Mascherano’s mind was made up well before his meeting with Hodgson and there was little the Liverpool manager could have said that would have kept the Argentine captain at Anfield.
If Liverpool are destined to lose their tough tackling midfield dynamo, it is clearly due to him wishing to move on and not the club desire to sell. So rather than cry over spelt milk, it would be better to get the best possible price for him.
Having splashed out £17m in 2007, the Reds will look to make a healthy profit with amounts of £25m being thrown around. Realistically Liverpool may agree on a figure of just over £20m.
So with over £20m in their pocket, assuming Hodgson gets these proceeds to spend, Liverpool will be on the hunt for another midfield enforcer.
It may well be that the Liverpool boss pulls Steven Gerrard back into his preferred central midfield position, which then means that he has the choice of Alberto Aquilani, Lucas and even Jay Spearing to partner his captain in midfield.
However, should Hodgson decide to delve into the transfer market, then a tailor made replacement for Mascherano is not too far away.
The criteria may well be something along the lines of hardworking, tough tackling, fit as a fiddle, powerful, strong, leadership qualities and possibly if he is English, all the better.
If this is what the Liverpool boss is looking for then, he would need to look no further than Scott Parker of West Ham.
Parker and Mascherano have such similar traits and playing styles that it would be hard to tell them apart, although Parker’s shooting ability ranks higher than Mascherano’s.
Currently the West Ham midfield enforcer is coming into the crosshairs of Harry Redknapp of Tottenham, who have made tentative moves toward Parker.
West Ham’s response was to slap a £15m asking price for him.
Parker who started off as the youth product of Charlton Athletic, before a big money move to Chelsea and later to Newcastle, has been playing arguably his best football at West Ham. He is the first player since Julian Dicks to be voted as West Ham supporters’ player of the year in two successive seasons.
He was tipped to get a seat on the plane to South Africa with the England team, but narrowly missed out when he was cut at the last cull.
Parker’s no nonsense all action playing style is so similar to Mascharano’s, that Liverpool may never miss the Argentine if he were replaced by the Englishman, with both playing the game with a high degree of physicality and aggression.
The two things that Parker has in his ‘plus column’ are his shooting skills which rank higher than those of Mascharano; despite not being a regular scorer, he tends to test the goalkeeper more so than the Argentine.
And secondly that he is English; as it seems that Hodgson will try to buy locally where possible.
The only real ‘minus’ would be the asking price that West Ham have placed on their star player. £15m may be an amount that Liverpool find difficult to reach, considering that their spending will not stop there.
But surely if Hodgson retains the cash from Mascharano’s departure then a deal could be reached with West Ham with some change left over.
If, as it appears, Liverpool lose the services of Mascherano then Scott Parker would surely be the ideal and more than adequate replacement.
As for Parker himself, the chance to play again for a top team in England and Europe may be a challenge he cannot ignore.
One cannot help but think he has some unfinished business to attend to when it comes to playing at the highest levels, as he was never really given the chance to shine at Chelsea.
The chance to finally throw off that ‘nearly or almost’ tag and fulfil the potential he showed when at Charlton, may well be an opportunity that he grabs with both hands and shows Liverpool fans that they need not miss Mascherano, as they now have Scott Parker to patrol their midfield.