Napoli keen on Argentine enforcer.
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has revealed that the Serie A club are attempting to sign Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano.
The 29-year-old, who left Anfield for Barca in August 2010, is under contract at the Camp Nou until June 2016.
His current deal includes an £80m buyout clause, but Napoli are, understandably, unwilling to pay that much.
The two clubs are locked in talks and De Laurentiis admits that they are finding it difficult to agree a transfer fee.
“[Manager Rafa] Benitez knows Mascherano well and esteems him,” Gazzetta dello Sport quote him as saying. “We are working on it, but it’s a difficult negotiation.”
Ex-Liverpool boss Benitez worked with Mascherano during the player’s three-year spell at Anfield.
During his Liverpool career, Mascherano played 139 senior games, scoring two goals. He was part of the Reds team that lost 2-1 to AC Milan in the 2007 Champions League final.
In four seasons at Barcelona, he has won two La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey, two Supercopa de Espana crowns, one Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup.
Mascherano has been capped 95 times by Argentina at senior international level. He has two Olympic gold medals.
Napoli will be in next season’s Champions League, having finished third in Serie A. They also won the Coppa Italia, beating Fiorentina 3-1 in the final earlier this month.