x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Mascherano poised for a new deal

Javier Mascherano, Liverpool's defensive midfielder, has pledged his future to the club and expects a new contract to be signed "in the next few weeks".

Javier Mascherano, Liverpool's defensive midfielder, has pledged his future to the club and expects a new contract to be signed "in the next few weeks". Securing the Argentina captain and Jose Reina, the goalkeeper, on extended deals has been a priority of Rafa Benitez, the club's manager. With Reina close to finally concluding the deal it appears Mascherano will not be far behind him.

"The club are talking with my agents," said Mascherano, who was a reported target for Barcelona last summer. "I don't like to be involved in the contract meetings so I leave that to my agents and the people at the club. Liverpool know I want to stay. I don't think it will be difficult to arrive at a deal and we will see what happens in the next few weeks." Benitez has always been confident the 25-year-old would extend his stay at Anfield despite speculation to the contrary.

"I have never said I was not happy at Liverpool. That was the press," added Mascherano. "I am happy here and the only way I can show that is with my performances on the pitch." Elsewhere, Owen Hargreaves, the Manchester United midfielder, has been handed a boost by manager Sir Alex Ferguson after he pulled him out of the reserves to train with the first team. Hargreaves, 29, was scheduled to continue his comeback from major knee surgery with another appearance for the second string against Burnley last night. He played his first game for 18 months in the reserves against the Clarets last week.

"He's going to be training with the first team and we'll see where that takes him," Ferguson told www.manutd.com. "We're keen to get him back involved because he's an experienced player and will be a valuable addition for us in the run-in, when having a strong, fit squad is vital." * PA Sport