There will be plenty of talk today about the possible signing of Nabil Fekir being confirmed today. Fekir will be a great asset no doubt if he does sign. He can play as a midfielder, or in the front three. If used as a midfielder it would mean that our whole midfield has had a complete revamp this transfer window. The quality of our midfield will be looking as good as our “best midfield in the world” era. One of the members of the “best midfield in the world” was Javier Mascherano.
And today, the 8th June, is Mascherano’s 34th birthday. So, a big “Happy Birthday” to one of my favourite midfielders of all time.
Our midfield in recent years has been criticised at times because we have lacked a ball winner. An enforcer. A hard man. A holding midfielder. Call it what you will. In our most successful days we had a Jimmy Case, or a Graeme Souness, or a Steve Mcmahon. In fact most successful teams have one. The signing of Fabinho will give us that edge again.
One of the best exponents of the holding midfielder role is Javier Mascherano. He is without doubt a really versatile player as well. For most of his time at Barcelona he played as a centre-back. For us he was a terrier like, scampering ball winner who brilliantly complemented the more subtle and, maybe, more skillful attributes of Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard.
Javier Mascherano was born in San Lorenzo in Argentina. His fierce tackling and competitiveness style attracted the attentions of Liverpool while he was at West Ham. A fee in the region of £18.6m saw him swap Upton Park for Anfield in February 2008. Initially he signed on loan but eventually joined us on a long term deal. The fee of £18.6m was a lot in them days but because of the strange situation regarding Mascherano’s “ownership”, the deal wasn’t as straightforward as normal. The fee also included his wages for the full four years of his contract. So, not a bad deal in the end really.
Mascherano, or “The Little Chief” has never been a prolific goalscorer. In 93 league appearances for us he only scored the one goal. Mind you it was a belter. A 25 yard strike against Reading at The Kop end in a 4-0 win.
He did score one other goal for Liverpool. It was against Unirea Urziceni away from home in a 3-1 Europa Cup win.
He only managed one league goal as well for Barcelona in 203 league appearances.
Javier Mascherano has made 143 appearances for Argentina. This incredible number of appearances makes him the joint-most capped player in the country’s history, alongside Javier Zanetti. Since his debut in 2003, he has represented Argentina at five Copa América tournaments. It seemed that Argentina were always the bridesmaid and never the bride in his time at the Copa America. They finished runner-up in 2004, 2007, 2015, and 2016.
He also played in three FIFA World Cups, reaching the final in 2014.
He also twice won a gold medal at the Summer Olympics, in 2004 and 2008. This achievement ensured that Mascherano became the first male footballer to achieve this double feat since 1968.
During the period between 2008 and 2011, Mascherano was also the captain of Argentina.
The Best Midfield In The World
As I said earlier, Javier Mascherano was one of my favourite Liverpool midfielders. But what of the “best midfield in the world” tag? When Mascherano was in his pomp at Liverpool he slotted into Liverpool’s midfield alongside Xabi Alonso, Steven Gerrard and Momo Sissoko. They gelled so well together, the fans described them as the “best midfield in the world”.
The fans loved them, as this song will testify….
“Happy Birthday” Javier Mascherano. Thanks for the memories.