BARCELONA : Barcelona won the race to sign Javier Mascherano from Liverpool, announcing on its website Friday that Argentine midfielder had agreed a four-year contract.
The transfer fee for Mascherano, who must first pass the obligatory medical test, was undisclosed. Reports had said Liverpool demanded a fee of around 25 million pounds $38.8 million). Spanish press reports put the price tag at Euro 22 million (18 million pounds; $28 million).
The 26-year-old, who was also thought to be a transfer target for Inter Milan and former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, is a natural replacement for the departed Yaya Toure as the defensive midfielder in the Spanish champion's lineup.
Liverpool had already rejected Barcelona's previous offer, which was described by Reds manager Roy Hodgson as being "very far apart" from Liverpool's valuation of the Argentina captain. He was subsequently left out of Liverpool's lineup for a Premier League match against Manchester City and Thursday's Europa League clash with Trabzonspor.
Although Hodgson preferred not to sell the player, he acknowledged that Mascherano had become intent on leaving.
Mascherano helped Corinthians to a Brazilian championship before his breakout performance at the 2006 World Cup led to a move to West Ham, where he was largely confined to the bench.
The former River Plate player moved to Anfield in 2007 and scored two goals in 139 total appearances for the Reds.
Mascherano has made 62 appearances for Argentina _ scoring twice _ since his debut in 2003, and in South Africa was the youngest captain to lead Argentina to a World Cup since Diego Maradona in 1986. AP