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Benitez: 'Players' Liverpool futures on the line'

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez believes how his side finishes the season could have a significant bearing on his transfer options in the summer.

Although the club are sixth in the Premier League, four points behind fourth-placed Tottenham having played a match more, on paper they have the easiest-looking run-in of all the Champions League hopefuls.

And Liverpool go into a Europa League quarter-final against Benfica next week hoping there is still a chance of winning some silverware.

Benitez believes the incentive to finish fourth and win the Europa League applies not only to his players but any prospective new signings.

"Players want to win trophies and want to finish in the top four," said the Spaniard, who has already agreed a pre-contract deal with Standard Liege forward Milan Jovanovic. "The players know it is important to perform now for the future and they want to stay here so I think it will be okay.

"We are now in a situation where we have to move forward and try to bring the best from each player.

"It is not easy to stay at a very good level. The main thing is we have some players coming back from injuries and if they are together and push together I am sure we will do really well.

"This club is a massive club so if we can progress in the Europa League and finish in the top four a lot of [other] players will be thinking whether to come here or stay where they are."


Last week goalkeeper Jose Reina confirmed he was very close to signing a new long-term contract and now Javier Mascherano has followed suit.

Securing the pair on extended deals was a priority of Benitez's and it seems he has been successful in persuading the 25-year-old Mascherano, who was linked with a move to Barcelona last summer, his future lies at Anfield.

"I have never said I was not happy at Liverpool. That was the press," said the Argentina captain, who has been one of the more consistent performers in a disappointing season -- even when filling in as an emergency right-back on a couple of occasions.

"I am happy here and the only way I can show that is with my performances on the pitch.

"The club are talking with my agents. I don't like to be involved in the contract meetings so I leave that to my agents and the people at the club. Liverpool know I want to stay.

"I don't think it will be difficult to arrive at a deal and we will see what happens in the next few weeks."