Player profile

Javier Mascherano

Birthdate: 8 June 1984
Birthplace: San Lorenzo, Argentina
Other clubs: River Plate (2003-05), Corinthians (2005-06), West Ham United (2006-07), Barcelona (2010-)
Bought from: Global Soccer Agencies and Mystere Services Limited
Signed for LFC: £18.6m, 30.01.2007 (loan) - 29.02.2008 signed permanently
International debut: 16.07.2003 vs. Uruguay
International caps: 110/3 (41/2 at LFC) - 18.11.2014
Liverpool debut: 24.02.2007
Last appearance: 15.08.2010
Debut goal: 15.03.2008
Last goal: 25.02.2010
Contract expiry: 30.08.2010
Win ratio: 54.68% W: 76 D: 37 L: 26
LFC league games/goals: 94 / 1
Total LFC games/goals: 139 / 2

Player profile

From the age of ten, Javier's father Oscar, demanded that he should learn the art of the enforcer. Javier clearly mastered that skill and attracted interest for his displays in the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship when he was on the books of River Plate. He even made his full international debut before playing his first game in the Clausura league. In the 2005/06 season 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. The deal granted MSI a big say in the future of the club in exchange for financial investments. This brought many other quality players to the team such as Carlos Tévez. However, they were not owned now by Corinthians but, in fact, MSI! Despite a troubled 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 in their doctor 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 and Tévez joined West Ham for an undisclosed fee. The sellers were not Corinthians, but, to perfectly muddy the waters, four investment funds: MSI, Just Sports Incorporated, Global Soccer Agencies (GSA) and Mystere Services Limited - all represented by Joorabchian. Tévez 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 time. Mascherano had a particularly memorable game against Spurs when after sliding in on Jermaine Defoe the Spurs striker bit his arm! Rafa Benítez saw a golden opportunity for Liverpool to acquire a quality 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 1 July of one year and 30 June of the next. Benítez said at the time: "There is a big difference between the law and the rules. A worker cannot be stopped working. That's the law of the European community. There are players in the world now who have played for three or four clubs in a season. They have freedom and they need to work." He had his reasons for getting Mascherano: "He is a player with a good character, good mentality and personality and has the qualities we need. I knew about this player when he was with River Plate. He was playing in their reserve team but already in the national team. That shows you the quality and the character of the player."

Liverpool paid initially £1.6million to get Mascherano on loan with a view to a permanent transfer in January 2007 and he certainly impressed the fans, players and Rafa. 'Jefecito' or 'Little chief' proved to be a tough-tackling player, who distributed the ball well and encouraged others to give their best. In only his eleventh game he was Liverpool's best performer in the Champions League final against Milan in Athens. On 29 February 2008 he signed a permanent contract for four years with Liverpool who paid the required £17 million. He soon became a crowd favourite for his commitment and to the tune of White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" his name echoed around Anfield. He was sometimes though a bit overzealous. March 2008 was a mixed month for Mascherano as he scored his first Liverpool goal with a brilliant effort against Reading at Anfield but was then sent off at Old Trafford a week later for confronting referee Steve Bennett at length after a yellow card had been given to Torres just before half-time. Mascherano had to be pushed off the field by Gerrard and Alonso and Benítez was also forced to plead with him to go into the dressing room. The usual one-game League ban for a straight red card was extended to three games for improper conduct.

Mascherano represented Argentina in the Olympic Games in Beijing in August 2008 as one of their over-23 players and became the only football player to have won two Olympic gold medals as he was also in Argentina's successful team in Athens 2004. Soon after being appointed head coach of Argentina in November 2008, Diego Maradona appointed Mascherano as team captain. Maradona's decision didn't come as a surprise as soon after his compatriot's arrival at Liverpool he declared that "Mascherano has the biggest talent of all the young players I have seen in the last years. He is a monster of a player and destined for great things." The Argentinan was however not as dynamic as was expected for Liverpool for the first part of the 2008/09 season and clearly suffered from not getting sufficient rest over the summer because of his international duties. Eventually he got back to his very best and it was hardly surprising that big clubs such as European champions, Barcelona, showed strong interest in him during the summer. Mascherano's agent claimed that his client wanted to join Barca, but Liverpool didn't want to sell him under any circumstances.

Argentina's captain took a while to get going in the 2009/10 season, confessing he found it hard to motivate himself after his proposed move to Barcelona fell through. A couple of months into the season he got back to his usual tremendous standards in Liverpool's midfield, only missing four Premier League matches and four cup matches during the whole campaign. His presence certainly was missed when he was unavailable, but he was, however, the architect of his own unavailability. He received a red card for an unnecessary lunge at United's van der Sar at Anfield in October and got another red against Portsmouth just before Christmas. It wasn't surprising that he was ranked #1 on the disciplinary list in the 2009/10 Premier League season with nine yellows and two reds. A highlight was a fierce drive in the Goodison derby that deflected off Yobo and into the Gladwys Street goal. Mascherano's run and dive in front of the away supporters showed his player's passion and enthusiasm and his pride in wearing a Liverpool shirt. 

The unavoidable happened on the penultimate day of the summer transfer window in 2010 when Mascherano signed a four-year deal with Barcelona. He played in 27 of the 38 league fixtures as Barca retained their domestic title with 96 points and also played in eleven Champions League matches including the Wembley final at the end of May when the Catalans blew Manchester United away with a wonderful display of slick, confident football. His joy was unconfined though as he finally exorcised the demons of his previous final appearance in this competition, for Liverpool in Athens in 2007. Mascherano told the watching world "To win the Champions League for any footballer is the top title" to which he poignantly added "I know that Liverpool supporters after my exit were a little bit sad with me so this is for them as well." Now being accustomed to playing centre-half rather than a holding midfielder Mascherano made 52 first-team appearances for Barcelona in 2011/12. The Catalans surrendered the League title to Real Madrid after holding it for three seasons. But there was consolation for Mascherano in the form of the Copa del Rey, won 3-0 by Barcelona against Athletic Bilbao. Mascherano was part of Barca's historic start to the 2012/13 season, though he found himself spending a few games on the bench. Ulimately, though, he still played in twenty-five La Liga matches and that was easily enough to give him another winners' medal. He also appeared eight times in the Champions League and six times in the Copa del Rey.

Mascherano played in 28 of Barcelona's 38 La Liga matches in 2013/14 as the Catalans finished runners-up to Atletico Madrid. He also appeared in 7 of Barca's 9 Copa del Rey matches including the final which Real Madrid won 2-1 at Valencia's Mestalla Stadium in the middle of April. Mascherano continued to play as a central defender for his club but was still used occasionally as a defensive midfielder by his country. Early in June 2014 he signed a four-year extension to his club contract which tied him to Barcelona until 2018 unless another club was prepared to pay the around eighty million pounds that was included in a buyout clause to the new contract.  

Appearances per season

SeasonLeagueFALCEuropeOtherTotal
Totals9452380139
2006-2007 7004011
2007-2008 252113041
2008-2009 27308038
2009-2010 340113048
2010-2011 100001

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

TotalOpponent
10Chelsea
8Arsenal
7Manchester City
6Manchester United
6Tottenham
5Everton
5Aston Villa
5Blackburn Rovers
5Wigan Athletic
5Fulham
4Atletico Madrid
4West Ham United
4Hull City
4Middlesbrough
4Portsmouth
4Sunderland
4Bolton Wanderers
3Marseille
3Stoke City
3Reading
2Besiktas
2Debrecen VSC
2Lyon
2PSV Eindhoven
2Toulouse
2Porto
2Lille
2Unirea Urziceni
2Inter Milan
2Benfica
2Real Madrid
2WBA
2Birmingham City
2Newcastle United
1Preston North End
1Wolves
1Burnley
1AC Milan
1Cardiff City
1Derby
1Sheffield United
1Charlton Athletic
1Leeds United
1Luton Town
1Fiorentina
1Havant
Total Started/substitutions
132 Started
18 On the bench
7 Substitute
29 Substituted

Goals per season

SeasonLeagueFALCEuropeOtherTotal
Totals100102
2006-2007 000000
2007-2008 100001
2008-2009 000000
2009-2010 000101
2010-2011 000000

A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring

TotalStarted/substitutions
2Started
0Substitute
TotalCompetition
1Premier League
1Europa League
TotalGoal minute period
01-15
216-30 minutes
031-45
046-60
061-75
076-90
091-120
TotalOpen play/Penalty
2Open play
0Penalty

Wartime Appearances / Goals

SeasonAppearancesGoals
No records to display.

Stats note

Liverpool paid £1.6 million to get him on loan in January 2007 with a view to a permanent transfer in 2008 when Liverpool paid the £17 million required to complete his move.

Milestone Appearances

#DateAgainstStadiumCompetition
124.02.2007Sheffield UnitedAnfieldLeague
5030.04.2008ChelseaStamford BridgeEurope
10017.10.2009SunderlandStadium of LightLeague

Milestone Goals

#MinuteDateAgainstStadiumCompetition
11915.03.2008ReadingAnfieldLeague

Related Articles

Reds are becoming a laughing stock

Liverpool Echo press report on Liverpool - Blackpool on 02.10.2010.More

Whys Masch, not Torres, is the real Rafa masterstroke

The Guardian on 17 March 2009.More

Mascherano's master class in destruction

An article from Daily Mail on El Jefe.More

Mascherano enjoys rapid revival under canny guidance of Benítez

A comment on Javier Mascherano in The Guardian in April 2007More

Mascherano's move - bottom to top in one not so easy transfer

Article by Lee Clayton in the Daily Mail on 1st of February.More

Fowler rediscovers former omnipotence

The Observer match report on Liverpool - Sheffield United on 24.02.2007.More

Don’t cry for the Argentinians. Weep for the insularity of English managers

An article from The Times on 31st of January 2007. More

Related Quotes

"[Laughs] No, but I know the words – the one about Momo Sissoko, Xabi Alonso, Gerrard and Mascherano. I can hear them sing it and it makes me feel good. Like you said, I've been here just six months, so to have the fans sing my name already is just great. The Liverpool fans are fantastic – I have never seen anything like them at Anfield. No other fans sing like them, it's incredible."

The fans sing that we've got the best midfield in the world. Can you sing it? Liverpoolfc.tv interview with Javier Mascherano.

There can be no more damning indictment of the problems earlier this season at West Ham than the current form of Javier Mascherano. Unappreciated, sidelined and ultimately unwanted in a team fighting for survival, the Argentinian has suddenly become pivotal at a club who are currently the bookmakers' favourites to become champions of Europe. After ending up in West Ham's reserves, Mascherano is also quietly re-establishing his reputation as one of the world's best young midfielders. "In the last games he has played really well - passing and moving the ball, keeping the ball in position and also tactically," said Liverpool's manager, Rafael Benítez. "He is 22 years old but he has 22 caps for Argentina - that's not easy."

A comment on Javier Mascherano in The Guardian in April 2007

The situation with Barcelona really affected me. It was a shame it didn’t happen as it was the city I wanted to live in. There were many discussions and problems during that month and a half. They were difficult times for me. One day I was off to Barcelona, the next I wasn’t. And Liverpool said I was non-transferable. Psychologically, it affected me as I couldn’t think in Liverpool and I was focused on other stuff and not on my work, my training and playing. Also we were having problems with Argentina as our qualification to the World Cup was in danger. There was a lot of complicated stuff at that time. I don’t do much stuff in my free time, that’s the truth. I could go to London with my wife to do some shopping but I have already been to London 1,000 times and if I want to go to another city I would have to take a plane.

What kills me about living in Liverpool is that there are only two Argentinians here with me, Emiliano Insua and Maxi Rodriguez. Insua and I live in a private neighbourhood. He lives in one tower and I live in the other. There are 15 metres between us and we used to look at each other through the window. Sometimes Zabaleta comes from Manchester but there is no way Carlos Tevez comes here. If I want to see him, I have to go to his place and knock on his door. He doesn’t like to leave his home. So during the winter, during those four or five months, I have to stay at home all day with my family. I have no problem living in Liverpool, but I think my wife and daughters deserve to enjoy every day to the full and live their lives – but they have to be at home all day. My wife doesn’t speak a word of English, so she depends 100% on me. I live here with them. That’s my world, that’s my life.

Mascherano complains in May 2010 about playing for Liverpool and living in the city

"I am awake at 4am designing a team. The selection? It's Javier Mascherano and 10 more."

When Diego Maradona was national coach of Argentina he counted on his captain, who he had appointed in that role a year earlier, as he revealed to Argentine TV.

The player was in the squad the following season

SeasonShirt #Position
2006-2007 20 Midfielder
2007-2008 20 Midfielder
2008-2009 20 Midfielder
2009-2010 20 Midfielder
2010-2011 20 Midfielder
* Note, Since the 1993-94 season players have been allocated a fixed number.

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