Friday, March 5, 2010

Masch needs assurances before signing new deal

Javier Mascherano will seek reassurances over Liverpool’s plans to strengthen manager Rafael Benitez’s squad before agreeing to turn his back on a potential move to Barcelona and extend his contract at Anfield for a further two years.

Liverpool have approached Mascherano’s representatives with a view to offering the Argentine international captain improved terms on his current deal, which expires in 2012, and the two parties are expected to meet on Merseyside early next week.

Barcelona were widely expected to return with a firm bid for the player this summer after initial enquiries from the European champions’ sporting director Txiki Begiristain were rejected outright by the Anfield club last year, but Liverpool are confident a deal worth around £100,000-a-week will be enough to retain the midfielder’s services.

The club will have to convince him, though, that owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett have the resources to equip Benitez with a side capable of maintaining their Champions League status and challenging for the Premier League title after a campaign tinged with desperate disappointment.

“Liverpool have approached us to discuss a new contract and my agent will have a meeting in the next few days,” said Mascherano. “The reality is that I am very happy at Liverpool. I want to know what the club’s plans are and then we will see if, at this moment in time, I can renew my contract.

“It is not that I felt unsettled [by the rumours of Barcelona’s interest] in the summer or that I am more at home now. I have always been very happy at Liverpool. Everyone at the club has always treated me very well. That is all there is to say at this stage.”

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