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By ESPN Staff
Feb 28, 2008

End in sight to Mascherano transfer limbo?

Midfielder Javier Mascherano claims he is now 'really close' to finalising a permanent deal with Liverpool.

The Argentina international, who is owned by the Media Sports Investments consortium, has been on loan at Anfield for the past year.

Manager Rafael Benitez has long been keen to secure the influential player - who is expected to cost the club around £18million - on a permanent basis. A deal can be concluded outside of a transfer window because Mascherano does not belong to another club.

The 23-year-old told the Reds' official website: 'We are really close. Maybe this week or next week we will be able to say everything's finished.

'We can't say it just yet but hopefully in a few days everything will be okay.

'There are no problems with the fee or with the contract, it's just getting the papers finished.'

Mascherano came to Liverpool after an ill-fated stint at West Ham and played a key role in the club's run to the Champions League final last season.

He has maintained a strong presence in the team this season and is keen to remain at Anfield despite past stories linking him with a move elsewhere if a permanent deal failed to materialise.

The financial uncertainty that has surrounded Liverpool's American owners this season is thought to have delayed the resolution of the matter.

Mascherano added: 'I have always said I want to stay here and so it hasn't been a difficult time for me.

'I have wanted it to be finished because I have my family behind me and I want to know what my future is going to be. I am calm and relaxed because I know that everything is almost over.

'I am very happy that in the next week I will be able to say I have signed for Liverpool.

'It will be the best moment of my career to be able to say I will be playing my football with Liverpool.'