Mascherano moves closer to Liverpool deal
Monday 22 March 2010
Contract talks with Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano are edging closer to a resolution but manager Rafael Benitez accepts there is still a little more work to do.
The two parties have been talking over a new deal for the Argentina captain for some time and Benitez is confident the matter will be resolved to both their satisfaction.
Mascherano, whose current contract still has nearly two years to run, was a target for Barcelona last summer and Liverpool are keen to tie him to a new long-term contract to prevent another close season of speculation, especially in a World Cup year.
Spain goalkeeper Jose Reina will sign his new deal in the next three weeks to join the likes of Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt and Daniel Agger in committing their future to the Reds.
"We were talking, progressing and we're closer now. Still we need to talk a little bit but we are closer," said Benitez.
"It would be very important for the club. We have some important players with some years left on their contracts and this could be another one. It's very important that we're keeping the spine of the team.
"Every fan knows he's a very important player for us, a key player who's good for team spirit. He's an example for a lot of players.
"He shows every game his commitment, desire and passion. He has great character, but he can also play. He's a player every manager would like to have in their team."
Less clear is the future of winger Albert Riera, who last week was suspended for his outspoken comments about Benitez and the club, which he described as a "sinking ship".
Riera will be further disciplined - in the form of a fine - by the club later this week when he returns to training.
But such was Benitez's anger at the content and timing of the Spain international's remarks - coming on the eve of the crucial Europa League last-16 second tie at home to Lille - there is still a possibility the player could be hastily jettisoned.
Riera, who has a Russian wife, has been linked with a move to CSKA Moscow and also Spartak Moscow as the Russian league's transfer window does not close until next month.
Latest in Sport
England vs Lithuania: Wayne Rooney rules out repeat of boxing celebration after son Kai repeats it at school and focuses on goalscoring record
Marco Reus becomes Arsenal transfer target to replace Theo Walcott
Paul Scholes: It's amazing Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has so few caps for England
New kits for 2015/16: Have the Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Barcelona strips been leaked?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Zab Judah denies flooring Mayweather during sparring as he prepares for 2 May
- 1 Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
- 3 Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
- 4 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 5 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest