Manchester City Step Up Interest In Barcelona Midfielder

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Pellegrini eyes experienced Argentine to protect struggling defence.

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Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is reportedly keen on making a big-money bid to Barcelona for Javier Mascherano this January, CaughtOffside understands.

After a difficult start to the season, Pellegrini is concerned at his side’s performances at the back, with shock 3-2 defeats coming at both Cardiff City and Aston Villa in just the first two months of the season, as well as a 3-1 defeat at home to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Mascherano’s ability to play both in defence and as a defensive shield in midfield appeals to Pellegrini, who knows the Argentine well from his time as a manager in La Liga.

The 29-year-old is a key player for Barcelona, though it is thought that he might be tempted to leave the Nou Camp as he is keen to play in midfield rather than defence, where he has mostly been used since his arrival from Liverpool in 2010.

Mascherano’s uncertain situation at Barcelona had also seen him linked with Napoli over the summer, though a move never materialised, and the Catalan giants are likely to hold out for offers close to £20m for the experienced midfield anchor man.

Having spent big in the summer, City are more than ready to do so again, and will hope to tempt Barcelona into selling the versatile star, who they will hope to partner alongside summer signing Fernandinho in midfield.

This would allow Yaya Toure to play further forward, as the Ivorian has done so to good effect so far this season, though this fine ability going forward has often left Fernandinho and the team’s defence somewhat isolated.

Mascherano was an impressive defensive midfielder in his time in the Premier League with Liverpool, and may be tempted to play in England again after enjoying great success in his time at Anfield.

Some City fans may question the need for another big-money purchase when Gareth Barry is currently out on loan at Everton and playing well for his new team, despite not being given a chance to impress by Pellegrini when he arrived at the Etihad Stadium this summer.

City are also likely to look for a specialist centre-back in January as well, and have been linked with the likes of Eliaquim Mangala of Porto and Adil Rami of Valencia.

The club were mostly active in strengthening their attack during the summer, with the likes of Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic and Jesus Navas all arriving, though they will need to tighten up at the back to maintain a serious title challenge this season.

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