Will Masche continue playing in England?
Splash the cash stash on Masch
By PHIL THOMAS
LIVERPOOL are offering midfielder Javier Mascherano a two-year contract extension with a pay rise to keep him out of Barcelona’s clutches.
The Argentina captain has two seasons left on his current deal but was courted by the Spanish and European champions in the summer.
Mascherano’s future remained uncertain despite Rafa Benitez’s insistence that he would not sell his enforcer, 25, even if a £50million Barca bid came in.
Talks have begun to try and tie him down at Anfield until 2014 with a £5million-a-year deal – worth almost £100,000 a week. There were suggestions last summer that Mascherano was keen to return to a Spanish-speaking country for family reasons.
His agent Walter Tamer fuelled the rumours by claiming his client was “very proud” to be linked with Barca, saying a transfer would be “feasible”.
But there was no transfer window move and Mascherano continued to show the form which saw Argy boss Diego Maradona hand him the armband.
Liverpool, who paid £18m for the star three years ago after initially taking him on loan from West Ham, are confident he will put pen to paper and commit to the deal.
Talks are ongoing over a new deal for keeper Pepe Reina after rumours he could be a Chelsea target.
Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Dirk Kuyt have also all signed long-term contracts at Anfield.