Following the retirement of club captain, Carles Puyol, FC Barcelona's defense is looker weaker than ever and if the latest rumours are to be believed, the situation may well get worse before it gets any better. In a recent interview with Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, SSC Napoli president, the eccentric Aurelio de Laurentiis has confirmed his club's interest in signing Javier Mascherano.
Of course, Javier Mascherano ultimately made his name at Liverpool, under the guidance of Napoli coach, Rafa Benitez and has been linked with an exit from the Camp Nou for over a year. Despite his regular starting place as a centre-half in the Barcelona line-up, Mascherano is thought to be "expendable" by the powers that be in Catalunya, and the player himself is thought to be receptive to a potential move. And so, de Laurentiis is hoping to pounce, and is quoted as saying that Napoli are currently in the process of "working on a deal".
However, de Laurentiis went on to concede that "it's a difficult negotiation" and raised a few question marks over the wisdom of signing Mascherano given his advancing age. Evidently, Napoli are attempting to play hardball so to speak and are not above using the media as an outlet to both try and unsettle the player, and ultimately lower the price of any eventual deal.
Interestingly, a report published by Madrid-based Marca suggested that Mascherano is an integral part of Luis Enrique's plans -- with Lucho even contemplating the idea of making Mascherano club captain. Keep an eye out folks -- this could be a story that continues all summer long...
- FC Barcelona News: 23 May 2014; Marc-André ter Stegen Signs Five Year Contract, New Shirt Goes on Sale
- FC Barcelona News: 22 May 2014; Luis Enrique Presented as Barça Manager, Barcelona Win Copa Catalunya
- Copa Catalunya: FC Barcelona 0-0 (3-2 p.s.) RCD Espanyol: Match Review
- Copa Catalunya: FC Barcelona vs RCD Espanyol: Live Game Thread
- 2014 Copa Catalunya: FC Barcelona vs RCD Espanyol: Match Preview