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Jul 31, 2012

New Barca deal for Mascherano

Javier Mascherano has officially signed a new contract with Barcelona that will keep him at the Nou Camp until 2016 and increases his buy-out clause to €100 million.

Argentina international Mascherano joined Barca from Liverpool for €22 million in 2010 and has racked up nearly 100 appearances for the club having been converted from a defensive midfielder into a centre-back.

"I am very happy that a club as big as this has offered to extend my contract and I can feel relaxed that as long as I do things well, I can stay here for many more years," Mascherano said.

The 28-year-old, along with Sergio Busquets, is the only player that hasn't missed a single match due to injury since the 2010-11 season and is full of confidence for the coming campaign under a new manager.

"The leader is now Tito Vilanova and he will try to adapt his footballing tastes to the team, but the important thing is that in most ways, it will be much the same as ever," he said.

Although the former River Plate, Corinthians and West Ham United player has impressed with his defence qualities at Barcelona, he is yet to score a goal for the club.

Meanwhile, Barca captain Carles Puyol has said he wants to stay at the club until he retires - and that there will be no problem in agreeing a new deal with the club.

Puyol's current contract only runs until next summer but after a difficult few months during which he missed the European Championships due to a knee injury, the 34-year-old defender is desperate to get back onto the field of play for the start of the season.

He told sports newspaper Marca: "I have always felt very valued by the club, the fans, my teammates and the manager. I can't have any complaints. There isn't going to be any problem and the talks are on the right track.

"I have changed my idea (about the experience of playing at another club) and now I want to retire here. I will try to do so. I have the will and desire to continue playing if the club wants me. What I don't want though is for me to become a drag, I am very clear on this.

"It has been a hard summer, I have to train a lot but it has borne fruit. I am happy to be already with the team. I always try to take care of myself as much as possible. I will try to contribute everything to the team, to win everything and then we will see what happens.''

As part of Puyol's off-season recuperation programme he spent a lot of time training with David Villa as the striker also missed the Euros on his way back from a serious injury suffered in December and Puyol believes Spain's all-time leading international goalscorer is progressing well after nearly eight months out of the game.

"He looks good, hungry, excited and with a lot of intensity in the training sessions. When you have an injury like this though it is important to not rush back and return in good condition.''

With Jordi Alba's return to the club the only significant move Barca have made in the transfer market all summer, the major change has come on the sidelines where Tito Vilanova has stepped up to from his role as assistant to succeed Pep Guardiola as manager but Puyol has no doubt Vilanova will bring his own skills to the job.

"Here everyone is important. Tito is very valued, we believe he will offer us a lot. He will do his job and we will do ours. Here we all pull in the same direction and we all have our part to play.''

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