Mascherano ‘really close’ to Liverpool deal

MIDFIELDER Javier Mascherano claims he is now “really close” to finalising a permanent deal with Liverpool.

The Argentina international, who is owned by the Media Sports Investments consortium, has been on loan at Anfield for the past year.

Manager Rafael Benitez has long been keen to secure the influential player — who is expected to cost the club around £18million (€23.5m) — on a permanent basis.

A deal can be concluded outside of a transfer window because Mascherano does not belong to another club.

The 23-year-old said: “We are really close. Maybe this week or next week we will be able to say everything’s finished. We can’t say it just yet but hopefully in a few days everything will be okay.

“There are no problems with the fee or with the contract, it’s just getting the papers finished.”

Mascherano added: “It will be the best moment of my career to be able to say I will be playing my football with Liverpool.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez says he shares Steven Gerrard’s frustration at their failure to mount a serious title challenge this season.

Gerrard launched a damning assessment of the club’s disappointing league form earlier this week and Benitez says it is a view shared by everyone connected to the club and that he has no problem with Gerrard voicing his displeasure.

“Everyone at Liverpool shares Steven’s sentiments, there is no question about that,” Benitez admitted. “We wanted to be further up the table and the fact that we are not is a disappointment.”

Meanwhile, Tom Hicks yesterday claimed he has the power to block any attempt by Liverpool co-owner George Gillett to sell his half of the club.

Hicks this week insisted he had no intention of parting with his own 50% stake at Anfield, despite renewed interest from Dubai International Capital (DIC).

It is believed American businessmen Hicks and Gillett have suffered a breakdown in their relationship and DIC, the investment arm of the Maktoum royal family, remain determined to secure a controlling interest in Liverpool.

With Hicks refusing to budge DIC are considering making a bid for Gillett’s stake.

But Hicks said: “Not only am I not going to sell, my partner cannot sell without my approval.

DIC are only interested in buying Gillett’s shares if they can gain control of Liverpool, which would involve Hicks selling at least part of his stake. “For a lot of reasons I can’t discuss, I haven’t been able to fix it yet,” Hicks said of the club’s ownership. “But I am preparing to be in a position to fix it.”

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