New Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has all but put an end to chances of Javier Mascherano moving back to Anfield.
The Argentine midfielder and defender has been linked with a return to Liverpool this summer after becoming disillusioned with the Spanish giants under the guidance of former boss Tata Martino.
However, Enrique has given Mascherano a simple and clear message ahead of next season.
“Javier Mascherano has headed off to Argentina without sorting out his future, though last week he did turn out at the training ground, where he met Luis Enrique, who told him he is counting on him for next season,” reports Marca.
As things stand, Mascherano is likely to continue to be used in defence next season.
The root of reports suggesting he wanted to leave Barcelona seemed to be on his desire to revert to his more natural and favoured central midfield position.
Before he was converted into a central defender at Barcelona, he was considered to be one of the best holding players in the world.
Liverpool is a very obvious destination for Mascherano if he does leave the Nou Camp, with the natural link created by his Anfield past.
However, the Reds can cope if he does choose to stay with Barcelona because Lucas has performed well in front of the Liverpool back four and Steven Gerrard has adapted to play well in a deeper role.
Marca has suggested there will be further discussions over his future and the role he’s likely to play at Barca under Enrique but the initial signs aren’t good for any Liverpool fans hoping the club would get him back.
“The club might well feel that it is a little bit premature to start making any moves. All the same, the confirmation of interest from Napoli means that all sides ought at least to talk.”
With Carles Puyol departing the club, Enrique will see it as essential to ensure that the club keeps their best players this summer, but Liverpool have as good a chance as any side to pounce if things don’t work out.