Benitez: Carra was front of the queue for Maradona autograph

Javier Mascherano Argentina

Rafa Benitez refused to be drawn on interest in Javier Mascherano - so told a story of a visit from Maradona during his time at Liverpool instead.

Last week, we brought you news that Javier Mascherano turned down the chance to reunite with Rafa Benitez at the San Paolo in January.

According to Bernardo Brovarone, representative for the Barcelona man’s agent in Italy, that is.

Brovarone claimed that the Argentine instead wished to return to the Premier League, sparking the idea that Brendan Rodgers could look to bring him back to Anfield this summer.

But in Italy rumours that Mascherano could sign with Napoli in the coming months have nonetheless persisted, uninhibited in the face of this development.

And when Partenopei coach Benitez sat down with television programme Casa Napoli this week, his interviewers were keen to keen to ask about the situation.

The Spanish tactician, however, was not inclined to give any answers.

He said: “Mascherano? He is a great player, but I do not like to talk about it now because he is still at Barcelona and has to try to win something with his club.”

Still, Benitez did not leave his hosts entirely empty-handed.

The 54-year-old spent three seasons with Mascherano in his squad at Anfield and recalled a visit from Napoli and Argentina icon Diego Maradona during his time on Merseyside - which clearly excited Jamie Carragher.

“I will tell you an anecdote of when Maradona came to see him [Mascherano] at Liverpool," Benitez added.

“We stood talking in my office for half an hour. When we left the room, we found 10 Liverpool players, first of them Carragher, waiting for an autograph.”

Even a Kop legend like Carragher has his heroes, of course.

As for Mascherano, it does not look likely that he will become a San Paolo favourite in the near future.

All of Benitez’s memories with the Argentine at his side have perhaps already been made.

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