Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Jose Reina and Javier Mascherano close to signing new Liverpool contracts

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez believes the fact goalkeeper Jose Reina and midfielder Javier Mascherano are close to signing new contracts sends out a significant statement about the club's future.

Since last summer, starting with Barcelona's courting of Mascherano, there has been constant speculation about several key players, and Benitez himself.

That was intensified by Liverpool's poor start to the campaign, but since Christmas things have settled down considerably.

And it is a measure of the faith the players have in Benitez, who is confident he will be in charge for the long term, that two key members of his squad are prepared to commit to contract extensions.

“Everything is very close and no problems,” said Benitez, who in January was targeted by Serie A club Juventus to take over this summer.

“I think we will have news about Reina and Mascherano very soon and that will be very positive for the future.

“I was talking with Mascherano and his agent the other day and it is true Javier is happier,” said the Reds boss.

“The agent had been really good when we were talking in the past and the conversations were very positive. When you talk with Javier he is very settled and happy.

“Everyone knew about some clubs (being interested in him), but talking with us he was fine.”

Asked if a deal would be struck before the end of the season, the Spaniard added: “I think so.”

Benitez has been delighted with the mentality of Mascherano, whom he rates as among the top five in the world in his position, in recent weeks.

That was especially the case when he was asked to fill in as an emergency right-back against Blackburn last weekend.

“He wants to improve and push and make sure we finish in the top four and I am really pleased with his attitude,” Benitez said.

“He is captain of Argentina, one of the best teams in the world, so if you say to me 'How many?' I would say there are four or five players at this level in the world and he is one of them.

“Javier came to my office and I said we were thinking of playing him as a right-back and he said 'Fine' and we finished the conversation.

Benitez has also been impressed with the form of Reina, who has been Liverpool's player of the season.

“Pepe is another key player and it is 100% he will continue with us,” he added.

Stressing the word 'know', Benitez added: “Now I know 100% that he will continue with us.

“He is the best in England, miles away from the others, and we are really pleased to keep him here for a long time.”

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