Mascherano focussed again after speculation

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez says Argentine midfielder Javier Mascherano has stepped up his play in his football recently after speculation linking him with a big money move to Barcelona ended.

Mascherano was constantly rumoured to be moving to the Catalan giants throughout the summer, but Benitez priced them out, denying Mascherano a move to Spain.

And Benitez says he has noticed better play from the 25-year-old as the new season fast approaches.

“There has been a significant improvement in his game over the past 10 days. He has been a lot more focused, and we are seeing the real Javier Mascherano again,” said Benitez.

“He is now fully focused on us and what we might achieve together this season. I can guarantee that 100 per cent. We have spoken about his situation before, and we spoke again.

“He realises his importance to us and that he has an example to set, and he has changed a lot.

“I have seen a big difference in him. He knows he is staying and is clear about that in his own mind, and he is ready to show a lead to the rest of the players.”