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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.

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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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