Speculation mounts about Argentine’s future.
JAVIER MASCHERANO has further rocked the listing Anfield boat this morning by snubbing a new contract.
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez, already on the ropes after four straight defeats, has always believed the Argentine midfielder would join his golden list of long-term stars.
Skipper Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Pepe Reina, Dirk Kuyt, Daniel Agger and Yossi Benayoun were all secured on bumper summer deals. Mascherano, 25, is strongly linked with Barcelona. And that is a real worry for Benitez, as he hoped that his South American playmaker would be another one to commit his long-term future to the Anfield cause.
But Mascherano has no wish to join the elite list, a huge blow to Benitez hours before facing Man United today.
Benitez is willing to shower Mascherano with riches in line with Liverpool’s other superstars. Mascherano, currently on around £60,000 a week, will be guaranteed a £30,000-a-week increase if he signs a new deal.
But Mascherano says the cash is of no interest to him, leaving Benitez and the fans deeply concerned that the Argentinian could be the next big name exiting Anfi eld, following Xabi Alonso’s departure to Real Madrid.
Asked about possible talks over a new deal, Mascherano said: “I have never asked for a new contract.
“I already have a contract with Liverpool. I don’t play football for the money. I play for me to win. Obviously I will not play for free. But at this moment the money is not the most important thing for me. I have talked with Rafa over the summer but nothing has happened.
“I’m here. I play for Liverpool and I will try to give my best.
“I am a professional and I have to think about Liverpool.” Mascherano’s stance casts further doubts over his future at Anfield but he is still keen to silence talk about a move to Barcelona.
He added: “I don’t want to talk any more about Barcelona. I try to give my best to Liverpool.
“Sometimes you have good form. Sometimes you are not in good form. But I will continue working to do my best.
“I am very relaxed about my situation because I know I go to training every day and give my best for the club.” (Daily Star)
Obviously stories such as these should be taken with a large dose of salt but at the same time similar stories are popping up all over the place today and there is no smoke without fire on this one. Clearly its timed well as an attempt to further undermine our club but Javier is doing himself no favours. He really needs to go out there today, if picked, and show us that he has not allowed Barcelona’s interest in him turn his head.
Last season he was immense. He foiled just about every midfield he came up against and was full of fighting spirit and determination and that rubbed off on those around him, this term he has looked a yard short of pace and seemingly out of sorts. If he wants a new improved contract then he has to show Rafa he deserves one.
Pepe Guardiola would like a defensive midfielder and has outlined his admiration for the Argentine Captain but Rafa will not sell however poor Mascherano gets and will not so easily cave into contract demands and even though the issue is supposedly not about money I would be surprised if that was indeed the case.
After losing Xabi we could ill afford to lose another top notch midfielder hence Benitez’s insistence that no amount of interest from the Nou Camp would result in a move. It is up to Javier to prove that he wants to lead us back into form by leading by example and today is as good a day as any!