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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 December 2007, 18:31 GMT
Mascherano 'will stay' at Anfield
Javier Mascherano
Mascherano has played 15 times for Liverpool since joining in February
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is confident Javier Mascherano will sign a permanent deal to stay with the club.

The on-loan midfielder has been linked with a 17m move to Manchester City but Benitez is upbeat that the Argentine will remain at Anfield.

"He said to me that he wants to stay here, so I have confidence," he said.

Liverpool would have to negotiate with Media Sports Investments, the consortium which "owns" Mascherano, to agree a permanent contract.

Benitez's attempts to buy the player were recently blocked by Liverpool's American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

He wants to stay, our supporters like him and we will try to keep him

Rafael Benitez
Liverpool manager

But the Liverpool manager remains optimistic of securing a longer-term agreement, beyond the 18-month loan period which expires this summer.

"Clearly, I hope Mascherano stays here," he said. "I am confident he can be persuaded to stay.

"He is playing well and everyone knows he is a good player and there are not too many world-class holding midfielders around.

"He wants to stay, our supporters like him and we will try to keep him."

Mascherano and his advisers are believed to want to tie up a deal as quickly as possible.

Liverpool risk the midfielder signing a pre-contract agreement elsewhere if they do not offer him permanent terms by next month.

In October, Mascherano said he hoped he can do enough to turn his loan deal with Liverpool into a permanent move at the end of the season.

"I'd love to stay and I will do everything I can to do so. It depends on what everyone decides at the end of the season," he said.

606: DEBATE

"I have just got to make sure everyone is happy with my performances and they want me to stay. I want to be here to play in the new stadium.

"We are already one of the greatest clubs in the world, but with the plans for the future we could become the world's greatest team."

Mascherano, rested for last weekend's 4-0 win over Bolton, is now set to play a key part in a critical week that could define Liverpool's season.

After Saturday's Barclays Premier League trip to Reading, Liverpool face a make-or-break Champions League tie in Marseille on Tuesday, where only a win will keep them in the competition.

The following Sunday, Manchester United visit Anfield, while a trip to Chelsea in the Carling Cup quarter-finals comes three days later.



SEE ALSO
Mascherano keen for Anfield deal
27 Oct 07 |  Liverpool
Q&A on Carlos Tevez deal
03 Aug 07 |  Premier League
Mascherano free to join Liverpool
20 Feb 07 |  Liverpool
New twist in Mascherano transfer
01 Feb 07 |  Liverpool
Fifa could block Mascherano move
05 Jan 07 |  West Ham Utd


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