x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Torres 'not for sale' but elusive Mascherano dodges Hodgson

Roy Hodgson, the Liverpool manager, has insisted striker Fernando Torres is not for sale but revealed Javier Mascherano is not returning his calls.

Roy Hodgson, the Liverpool manager, has insisted striker Fernando Torres is not for sale but revealed Javier Mascherano is not returning his calls. Torres, the 26-year-old Spain international, has been the subject of persistent speculation linking him with a big-money move away from Anfield this summer. Chelsea, Manchester City and Barcelona have all been mentioned as potential destinations but Hodgson has emphasised his determination to keep him.

"I have met with Fernando," Hodgson said. "I found him to be a very pleasant man and we had a nice conversation. As far as we are concerned he is a Liverpool player and we want him to remain a Liverpool player. He is not for sale and we don't welcome any offers for him. We want to keep him." Mascherano, however, is proving elusive. The Argentina captain indicated this week that he would like to be reunited with former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez at Inter Milan.

"I have tried to contact Javier," Hodgson said yesterday. "I have left him voice messages and sent him texts but had no reply. To be fair to him, that's not unusual because he's had a tough World Cup and I believe he's gone back to Argentina. "It's not always easy to get in touch with people. I have tried to reach him to make clear I am happy to talk with him at his convenience." Hodgson also found out yesterday that his side will play either Macedonian side Rabotnicki or Mika of Armenia in the third qualifying round of the Europa League.

Steve Bruce, the Sunderland manager, suffered a major blow yesterday after Craig Gordon, the Scotland keeper, was ruled out of until October with a broken arm. Meanwhile, Pablo Barrera, the Mexico international, has joined West Ham United on a four-year deal. West Ham are paying Mexican club Pumas £4 million (Dh22.5m) for the speedy, two-footed 23-year-old Barrera and the Upton Park the option to sign him for a further year.

* Agencies