Mascherano deal imminent

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez believes he is getting ever closer to persuading midfielder Javier Mascherano to sign a new deal at Anfield.

The Argentine international captain reportedly came close to leaving Merseyside for Barcelona last summer, but is now thought to be ready to commit himself to the club once again.

“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.”

Mascherano still has two seasons left on his current contract at Liverpool.