Barcelona are threatening Liverpool's plans to sign permanently midfielder Javier Mascherano.

The People says Mascherano faces the crunch on his Liverpool future this week - after his agents flew out for a secret summit with Barcelona.

Midfield schemer Mascherano is also wanted by Sven-Goran Eriksson's Manchester City, who are now under pressure to put money on the table as the player's handlers look for a result.

Top agent Pini Zahavi was in Spain yesterday to discuss a possible deal for £17million-rated Mascherano, who would ideally go to Barca if he had the choice and if he was going to play regularly.

However, ambitious City are the favoured choice of his agents as long as owner Thaksin Shinawatra puts the money on the table in the coming days.

Liverpool's owners are reluctant to buy Mascherano for the fee they have been quoted, but boss Rafa Benitez does not want to lose him halfway through the campaign.