Mascherano set for Reds talks

Midfielder could be offered contract extension at Anfield

Mascherano: Was a Barca target

Mascherano: Was a Barca target

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Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is planning to hold discussions with Javier Mascherano regarding the midfielder's future.

The Argentina captain was linked with a move to European champions Barcelona in the summer and the Spanish club held talks with the Reds.

But Benitez refused to sell following the exit of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid, and Mascherano was denied the chance to become a club colleague of close friend Lionel Messi.

There is now speculation that Liverpool want to offer the 25-year-old, who arrived from West Ham in 2007, a contract extension in order to prolong his stay at Anfield.

And Benitez admits negotiations are planned, telling Sky Sports News: "We were talking with Mascherano before. He knows we have to have a meeting and talk about his future.

"There is a possibility that we will be friends, and will talk about things in private."

Transfer targets

Meanwhile, Benitez has hinted that he could enter into the transfer market before the end of the summer window.

The Reds boss has signed Alberto Aquilani as a replacement for Xabi Alonso, but he still has £10million left from a transfer fee received from Real.

Bilbao defender Fernando Amorebieta has been mentioned as a possible target and Benitez confesses he is keeping his options open.

"I try to see how the market is, and what players are available, just in case," he said.

"You never know if you get injuries or if you have to bring someone in. It also depends on the position (of players) too.

"We are trying to keep working with the scouting department and will see what happens".

Benitez, though, insists reports linking winger Albert Riera with Barcelona are wide of the mark, adding: "No it's not true."