Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rafa Benitez To Fine Liverpool’s Javier Mascherano After Agent’s Barcelona Transfer Claims

Rafa Benitez is ready to fine Javier Mascherano after his agent claimed the player was desperate for a move to Barcelona.

The new European Cup winners started tracking Mascherano earlier in the season when he was struggling to tie down a regular midfield spot at Liverpool.

Agent Walter Tamer said yesterday: “I believe that a transfer would be feasible.

“If Barca really want him, he will sign for them.

“If a club like Barcelona want to bring you into their ranks after having completed such a brilliant season and having won everything, obviously as a player you are going to say, ‘Yes, I want to play there’.

“It is an honour for Javier that a club like Barca pay such close attention to him, especially after the incredible season they had.

“He would have a very easy job at Barca. Sometimes we talk and joke that the only thing he has to do is run, rob the ball and pass it on to all the superstars in front of him.”

Benitez insists Mascherano has three years left on his contract and will not be allowed to leave.

But the Anfield gaffer has some work to do to persuade another midfielder, Xabi Alonso, that he is still wanted on Merseyside.

Alonso has grown disillusioned after Benitez tried to sell him, and now wants a move to Real Madrid, who will make a firm offer for the Spanish international within the next week.

Benitez can do without outside interference affecting plans he has been working on since being told his budget earlier in the year.

When Benitez agreed his new contract in March, he was told he would have a minimum of £20million to spend this summer plus any cash he generates himself in the market.

He is bullish about bringing in the two big-name stars he believes will enable Liverpool to wrest the Premier League title from Manchester United.

“I’m positive we have a squad to compete because we were close even though Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard didn’t play together for a long time this season,” said Benitez.

“We have a very good squad and we can still improve a little bit. I’m sure we can improve enough to compete.

“Some clubs were asking for our players, so our priority was to extend the contracts of our key players – those players who are the spine of the team.

“We spent some money to guarantee this and now we are in a very good position.”

With the likes of Ryan Babel, Andrea Dossena, Andriy Voronin and Sebastian Leto all up for sale, Benitez could raise another £20m for his kitty.

And that will allow him to bid for Valencia winger David Silva, plus a top-class defender such as Portsmouth’s England international Glen Johnson or Spain centre-back Raul Albiol.

Benitez is also looking to bring in back-up players and Middlesbrough striker Tuncay has appeared on his radar.

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