Argentina star Javier Mascherano was one of Liverpool last great enforcers.
Mascherano really was a great player for Liverpool and fans won’t forget his solid efforts in midfield anytime soon; not least because they’ve been missing a viable replacement since his 2010 departure and the arrival of Fabinho at the beginning of the current season.
Forged in the furnaces of South America, Javier Mascherano first introduced his fiery talents to the Premier League in 2006 joining West Ham United alongside compatriot Carlos Tevez (BBC Sport). However, having only played seven games for the Hammers, a tally which was shrouded in financial clause controversy, he made the switch to Anfield on a temporary basis before signing permanently in 2008 (as per the Mirror).
The Argentine may have been small, which could have been an issue for a lesser player, but he more than made up for it in aggression and bravery – a potent combination which helps brew the affectionate title ‘Jefecito,’ or ‘Little chief’.
Solid performances in the 2007 Champions League run really solidified his status as a bonified semi-psychopathic wall in the defensive midfield role, and though Liverpool lost out to AC Milan in the final, fans could find solace in the fact they had a serious player on their hands. Consistency is one the main requirements for a good player to become great and the Argentina captain had it in abundance the following season, his performances attracting interest from the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona, which he admitted himself to be flattered by (as per The Guardian).
Mascherano’s final season with Liverpool was probably one of his best. Though he kicked things off slowly, presumably still dazed by the recent interest from Spain, he soon returned back to his best, missing just four Premier League matches and four cup games the whole year; absences engineered by his extremely poor disciplinary record.
Unfortunately for Liverpool fans, the inevitable eventually came in 2010 when Barcelona signed the player on a four-year deal. For what it’s worth, which is probably very little, Mascherano has since reflected on the nature of the move and regretted how it occurred.
He said (as per ESPN via Liverpool Echo): “When I left Liverpool it wasn’t good for me, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like having the feeling that I could go back to Liverpool and there was still something toxic there.
“It was a stormy summer for me. Rafa Benitez had left Liverpool and there was the possibility of going to Inter with him. We were negotiating but things did not go the way we wanted. I already had the idea of leaving Liverpool. He was the manager who had bet on me when I did not know what to do at West Ham. When he left, I believed that it would not be the same and I needed to take a step forward”.
As sincere as his comments may be, they feel a little less wholesome knowing he went on to enjoy incredible success in Spain with Barcelona, accumulating two Champions League medals, five La Liga titles, five Copa Del Rey’s and three Fifa Club World Cup trophies, making him a legend in the game.
Conversely, Liverpool have since won nothing.
At 34-years-of-age, Javier Mascherano now turns out for Chinese Super League Hebei China Fortune, who he joined in January last year (Sky Sports) – cashing in on his final days in the game, half the player he once was.