Mascherano playing against AC Milan / PHOTO: ARXIU FCB

“Mascherano has ended up being a fundamental player for us. Since Guardiola made him a centre back I don’t think he’s played a bad game. He’s essential in the squad because of his experience. I hope he can stay here for many more years” said Leo Messi, summarising nicely what the squad and fans think of the Argentinian international, who has set examples for solvency and professionalism.

The sports director for football, Andoni Zubizarreta, has said that negotiations to renew the contract of a player who has already made 97 appearances for the club are at an advanced stage.

“I have come to learn”

Speaking to the press on arrival at the club, Javier Mascherano said he had come here to learn. That was in 2010, when the Argentinian even accepted a 20% reduction in his salary in order to help push the transfer through. “We have to respect the players that are doing well. I know that there are three World Cup winners in midfield -Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta- and it will be a joy to learn from playing alongside them. I’ll be playing with footballers I admire and I’m sure that tomorrow I’ll be saying I’ve grown through being at this club”.

Quick adaptation

Now it is tomorrow, and everything Javier Mascherano said makes sense. He probably never imagined that the learning process would involve playing at centre back, but due to different illnesses and injuries to other players that hampered plans in the final third of the 2010/11 season, that was the role he was asked to adopt. Like Busquets before, the Argentinian started filling in at centre back, and adapted quickly and confidently to his new responsibilities.

Mascherano is also the only player apart from Sergio Busquets who hasn’t missed a single game through illness or injury since 2010/11. Now he has only one more target, which really would be the icing on the cake – to score his first official goal in a Barça shirt.