On this day in 2008, Liverpool signed Javier Mascherano from West Ham.
Born in San Lorenzo Argentina he started his career off at River Plate. He also made his full international debut before playing his first game in the Clasura league. In 2005 Mascherano joined Brazilian club Corinthians for £7.5 million, his deal came about after Corinthians signed a controversial deal with London-based investors Media Sports investments (MSI), headed by Kia Joorabchian. Despite a trouble start to the Campeonato Brasileiro in 2005 the club was eventually crowned league champions, unfortunately Mascherano suffered a leg break and didn’t contribute a lot to that success. The Argentinian national team flew their doctor in to oversee his rehabilitation so he would be ready for the World Cup in Germany. As it turned out Mascherano played every minute as Argentina reached the quarter-finals only to be knocked out by the hosts after a penalty shoot-out. The relationship between MSI and Corinthians became increasingly difficult and in 2006 Mascherano, along with Carlos Tevez, joined West Ham for an undisclosed fee. The sellers were not Corinthians, but four investment funds: MSI, Just Sports Incorporated, Global Soccer Agencies (GSA) and Mystere Services Limited – all represented by Joorabchian. Tevez was owned by the former two and Mascherano the latter two.
Mysteriously the highly-rated Mascherano played only seven games in a struggling Hammers team sparking rumours about financial clauses that were related to his actual playing team. Rafa Benitez saw a golden opportunity for Liverpool to acquire a great player and flew to London to meet him spending four hours at Canary wharf talking with Mascherano, using stones to illustrate the role he envisaged him playing in the Liverpool team. Liverpool had to court FIFA to get him because of FIFA Article 5.3, which states that a player may not sign for more than three clubs, and play for more than two, between 1st July of one year and 30th June of the next.
Liverpool initially payed £1.6million to get Mascherano on loan with a view to a permanent transfer in January and he certainly impressed the fans, players and managers. He was looked at as a tough tackling player who distributed the ball well and encouraged others to give their best while on the pitch, he was Liverpool’s best performer in the Champions league final against Milan in Athens. He signed permanently in February 2008 on a four-year deal and soon became a crowd favourite for his commitment and to the tune of White stripes ‘Seven Nation Army’ his name echoed around Anfield.
Mascherano represented Argentina at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and became the only footballer to have won two Olympic gold medals as he was also in Argentina’s successful team in Athens 2004. In 2008, Maraddona appointed Mascherano as Argentina captain after declaring Mascherano as ‘The biggest talent of all the young players I have seen in the last few years’.
During the 2009/10 season there was speculation of a proposed move to Spanish giants Barcelona but the deal fell through due to Liverpool not wanting to sell the player. He got back to his usual best and only missed four Premier League matches and four cup matches during the whole campaign.
Unfortunately, Mascherano left Liverpool in the summer of 2010 signing a four-year deal with Barcelona. He played in 27 of the 38 league matches and won the championship in his first season with the Catalonia side. He also went on to play in the Champions League final at Wembley in 2010 against Manchester United, Liverpool fans were overjoyed as in a post-match interview after their dominant win over Utd he said ‘I know Liverpool fans were a bit sad after my exit so this is for them aswell’.
Mascherano made 52 first-team appearances for Barcelona in 2001/12 and was often used in the CB position. He was also a part of Barcelonas historic start to the 2012/13 season, he played in 25 La Liga matches and obtained another winners medal. Mascherano continued to play in the central defender role of the remaining seasons at the club. He signed a contract extension in June 2014 with a release clause of £80 million added to his contract. He went on to appear in another Champions league final against Juventus in 2015 and his contract was again extended to 2019. Mascherano left for Chinese side Heibei Fortune in January 2018.
He played a total of 139 games for the Reds scoring 2 goals and was a fan favourite during his time at Anfield.
Article by Lauren Black
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