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Barcelona offer Mascherano to Liverpool as Coutinho bait

Barcelona have offered Javier Mascherano to Liverpool as a softener in their move for Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho.

The Argentina international has been playing in Europe now for over a decade, having had spells with West Ham United, Liverpool and current side Barcelona.

A mainstay in the Catalan side over recent years, Mascherano adapted his game from midfield to the heart of defence, where he quickly formed a formidable partnership with Gerard Pique.

However, Samuel Umtiti’s arrival in Barcelona and Mascherano’s age has seen a change with the Frenchman having played nine of their first 11 league games.

Speaking on his future recently, Mascherano said he would ideally like to return to his boy-hood club River Plate, where he left in 2005 for Corinthians.

However, Barca have now offered the defender to former club Liverpool in a bid to begin negotiations over Coutinho.

The long rumoured interest from Barca in the Brazilian international almost saw a summer move come to life, but Anfield bosses held strong and rejected such bids from the Catalan giants.

Further interest have emerged and it is reported that a January bid is being prepared with Barca boss Ernesto Valverde keen to build on his impressive start to both the domestic and European season.

Coutinho has previously played in Spain with Espanyol, having enjoyed a loan spell with the Catalan club whilst with Italian side Inter Milan.

Since arriving at Liverpool, the midfielder has been a major player for the Anfield based club, helping them reach the Champions League this season.

Barca will look to bolster a number of positions in the January transfer window and have been actively scouting a number of options.

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