Albiol welcomes speculation linking Mascherano with Napoli

The defender is delighted with reports linking the versatile Barcelona midfielder with a move to the Partenopei and hopes Rafael Benitez can lure him to Stadio San Paolo

Napoli’s Raul Albiol is excited by the prospect of Javier Mascherano joining the club after reports in Italy claimed the Argentina international is in talks over a summer move.

Partenopei boss Rafael Benitez knows all about the Argentine having worked with the 29-year-old during his time as Liverpool manager.

And Albiol believes that Mascherano would be a shrewd acquisition if Benitez can lure him to Stadio San Paolo.

"I'd love that, we all know that he is a player of a very high level," the former Real Madrid defender told Corriere dello Sport.

Napoli exited the Europa League after a 3-2 aggregate defeat to Porto last Thursday and their misery continued as they slumped to a 1-0 home defeat against Fiorentina in the Serie A on Sunday.

Benitez's side were billed as potential Scudetto contenders at the start of the season, but they are now third in the table and 20 points adrift of runaway leaders Juventus, something that Albiol is determined to put right next season.

"How far are Napoli from the Scudetto? We have to work hard and think immediately to being able to compete with the best," he added.

"Unfortunately this year we have gone wrong against small teams. The lesson has been learned and next year we will be more decisive against certain teams.

"The error we must not make is to say that we will be among the best in the next three or four years. Football is based in the present and we are already strong.

"What is lacking in defence? What serves us is the work of the whole team. The problem is not only about those at the back, but the whole XI."