The Times says Liverpool are eager to secure the long-term future of Mascherano but will proceed with caution before deciding whether to meet the £17 million buyout figure demanded by Kia Joorabchian, the businessman who owns the Argentina midfield player's "economic rights".

Under the terms of that agreement, Liverpool can sign a long-term deal with Mascherano before June 30 next year by paying MSI £17 million and assuming control of his economic rights as well as his playing registration, but planned changes to Fifa's regulations on third-party ownership mean that the club will wait before deciding to pay that sum.

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is determined to secure Mascherano's services for the long term, although there is interest in him from Real Madrid and at least one of the Italian clubs who, along with Manchester United, pursued him before his surprise move to West Ham.