Mascherano close to new deal

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is confident that Javier Mascherano will be signing a new Anfield contract in the not too distant future.

The Argentina international had appeared to be heading out of the club last summer when he was being linked with a transfer to Barcelona but now appears to be settled on Merseyside.

Mascherano's current contract still has nearly two years to run but he now seems ready to commit his long-term future to the Reds.

Benitez confirmed:"We were talking, progressing and we're closer now. Still we need to talk a little bit but we are closer.

"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 keep 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."

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