Former Liverpool star confirms he will not be joining Benitez in Naples

Javier Mascherano has made it clear that a move to Napoli from Barcelona is not on his agenda.

Javer Mascherano has been doing a fair amount of talking this week - defending his new manager Tata Martino, accusing critics of stupidity at questioning Barcelona’s slightly more direct style of play, and talking about apparent interest in his services form a former manager.

It could be argued the, pre-Barcelona success, Mascherano enjoyed his best years as a player under Rafa Benitez at Anfield.

Back then the converted centre-back was playing in a holding midfield role - and was potentially the best in that position in the Premier League.

The fact it came after a woeful spell at West Ham United was all the more impressive - and Benitez certainly managed to wangle the best out of this mercurial talent.

Now, Mascherano is being linked with joining Benitez at his new club Napoli.

Benitez has rebuilt the Campanian side somewhat - and if it was not for the freak form of AS Roma at the summit of Serie A, Benitez would be even happier with his start to the campaign.

But will Mascherano be arriving in January.

The answer it seems, is a categoric no!

The Italian outfit themselves confirmed that they would not be raiding Barcelona, in the way they have their El Clasico rivals Real Madrid recently, in an attempt to snap up the Argentine.

"We are not interested in Mascherano and we are not looking to get him. Gonalons, instead, has the profile of a player we might like."

Without going into a chat on the pursuit of apparent Arsenal target Maxime Gonalons making his way to the Stadio San Paulo - if any lingering doubts over a potential Mascherano-Benitez reunion were still doing the rounds, that can now be forgotten.

Because these words come from the horse’s mouth. Mascherano has been speaking to El Grafico, an Argentine sports magazine, about the apparent Napoli interest and had this to say about his relationship with Benitez and a potential reunification:

“I always talk with him. Before signing for Barcelona I came close to joining Benitez at Inter. Would I now join him at Napoli? I’m fine here and he knows that…”

So even if Benitez did want him, it looks as though this ex-Liverpool star will be staying put for now.

What are your favourite Benitez-Mascherano memories from Anfield?

image: © jamesmoore

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch