Rafa worried that speculation may have affected player’s form.
Rafael Benitez has once again insisted that Javier Mascherano is not for sale and wants him to extend his stay at Liverpool.
The Argentina international was heavily linked with a move to Barcelona in the summer before Xabi Alonso completed his transfer to Real Madrid, ending any hopes Mascherano had of leaving Anfield.
Reports have been circulating Merseyside that the 25-year-old is unhappy with not being allowed to leave the club, resulting in him being confined to the bench for a few games this season.
However, Benitez has insisted the midfielder is happy at Liverpool and he is determined to keep Mascherano at the club for the foreseeable future.
“I have told the managing director that he is very important to us and we want to keep him, and we will look at his contract when the time is right,” said Benitez.
“He is a key player for us and he will be a key player for us during the season.
“I think he is working very hard and in one or two games he was playing well but the team was not doing really well in the other two. It’s more the team than just one player.
“He has to play at the level he was before, but he has enough time to do that, and we know he is a key player for us, and will be for a long time.” (Eat Sleep Sport)
Lucas has increasingly been held up as a prime example of the commitment and dedication Benitez is looking for in midfield, and Mascherano will have to follow suit to convince Liverpool’s demanding boss he is worth a new deal.
Benitez even suggested Liverpool are owed a debt of loyalty by Mascherano, ahead of today’s return to his former club.
He said: ‘He has to forget about everything else, like other clubs or the World Cup. It is not easy, but that is where his professionalism has to come through. He has to come back, focus his mind and start thinking about Liverpool.’ (Daily Mail)
There are some interesting quotes coming from Rafa about Javier in recent days and It does seem that our boss is a little worried the Argentine may well have had his head turned by the interest from Barcelona during the summer.
What will happen if the former West Ham man does really want to go? He is a top notch player who had a great season last term but hasn’t been all that great this season and whilst it is never good to keep a player who wants to make a move he is a player we can ill afford to lose.