Albiol welcomes Mascherano Napoli link

Raul Albiol hopes he will be lining up alongside Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano at Napoli next season.

Reports in the Italian press claim that the Serie A club are in talks to sign Argentina international Mascherano at the end of the current campaign.

Napoli coach Rafael Benitez knows all about Mascherano's ability, having worked with the 29-year-old during his time as Liverpool manager.

And Albiol believes that the versatile Barca man 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 suffered the misery of being dumped out of the UEFA Europa League by Porto last Thursday and then slumped to a 1-0 home defeat against Fiorentina in 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 said.

"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.

"The Europa League elimination to Porto was borne from the fact that in the first leg we did not score. If we had scored in Portugal, everything would have been different.

"In Napoli we were unable to come back and unfortunately it went wrong."