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The numbers behind Arsenal's striker search

Arsenal
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By ESPN Staff

Mascherano hoping for long-term Reds deal

Javier Mascherano expects to enjoy a long relationship with the Liverpool fans after revealing his protracted transfer should be finalised by the end of the week.

The Argentina midfielder has been at Anfield since ending a brief stint at West Ham and although he is currently on a long-term loan deal from owners MSI, Rafael Benitez's desire to make that a permanent move looks set to be realised in the next few days.

As the Reds have already registered the player, there was no need to tie up the deal before the end of the January transfer window,

However, the 23-year-old, who claims his relationship with the Anfield crowd has been a major factor in his decision to stay on Merseyside, hopes the £18.6million transfer to go through shortly.

'It's not finished yet but I am hoping to stay here,' he said.

'I have a lot of confidence that after the next week I will be able to say `everything is right and I am staying here in Liverpool'.

'We now need to wait. We are very close but we need to talk again. I think everything will be okay. I've waited a long time, so I can wait one week more.

'The fans like me and I love the fans. They are great and that's the reason I want to stay here.'

Liverpool are believed to have verbally agreed a four-year contract with Mascherano, with the fee being paid to the player's owners in instalments.

Mascherano played his 26th game for the club in Saturday's 3-0 win over Sunderland, and said: 'When it was 0-0 at half-time there were no harsh words like the boss delivered last week when we were playing Havant.

'We knew we would have chances in the second half, so we weren't feeling so bad at half-time. We knew we could do something to win the game. It was just important we kept calm.

'At half-time we were told to keep going and work hard. We weren't playing really well, but it wasn't so bad either. We had to keep working together.

'The difference was that we scored early in the second half and you could see that gave us a lot of confidence. Once you've scored, you become calmer.'