Benitez boosted by contract talks with Mascherano

LIVERPOOL manager Rafael Benitez has held “positive talks” with Javier Mascherano about the midfielder’s future at the club.

Mascherano was heavily linked with a move to Barcelona this summer but Benitez insists the player is happy and negotiations are under way about extending his current deal, which runs for another two years.

“We were talking with him and his agent a month ago about our idea and his idea,” Benitez told the club’s website, www.liverpoolfc.tv.

“He’s doing really well and has come back to his best. We were really pleased to talk to him to make progress.

“We have plenty of time but we are happy with him and he is happier now, too.

“He has two more years on his contract; we were talking before and we will sit down sooner rather than later and talk about the future.

“The last conversations that we had were very positive.”

Benitez is also hoping to tie up a new contract for goalkeeper Pepe Reina over the coming months.

“We are very happy with him,” Benitez said. “He has been improving every single year and he will improve more because goalkeepers have more time in their career.

“He’s always positive and he’s one of the best in the training sessions because his attitude is always good.

“It depends on the agent and what the player wants but Pepe is very happy here in Liverpool so I don’t see a big problem.

“The team-mates love him because he’s a very good example.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool midfielder Lucas is keen to see Alberto Aquilani make his long-awaited first start for the Reds this week in the Champions League against Fiorentina.

The Italian moved to Anfield from Roma in the summer but is yet to reach full match fitness after undergoing ankle surgery prior to the transfer.

He could be handed his first start at Anfield tomorrow though, and Lucas is sure that he can have a positive impact on the team.

“It is exciting that Alberto is going to get his first chance and we are all looking forward to it – we will give him all the support and respect he needs.

“Hopefully he will do a really good job for us. When you have been out for a long time injured, it takes a while for you to get your rhythm back.

“But it is easy to see in training that he has got quality on the ball and we hope he is going to help us.

“People will make comparisons but he is a different player to Xabi [Alonso, who left Liverpool in he summer for Real Madrid]; he is more attacking and we can all see that he is going to play in a more advanced role.

“Obviously he came to replace Xabi but he is going to need some time to settle and we will do everything to make that happen quickly.”


Lifestyle

These are the best blooms for cutting so you can enjoy them outdoors and in, as florist Arthur Parkinson tells Hannah Stephenson.How to grow flowers that are ideal for cutting

Restricted movement is improving the health of our planet. It’ll probably do us some good too, says Sarah Marshall.A pause in travel could be positive for all of us

Restricted movement is a time for renewal, says Michael MurphyAdjusting to our new normal: Michael Murphy's six pieces of advice for isolation

More From The Irish Examiner