14 Mascherano

Javier Mascherano

Defender

Javier Mascherano has been one of the captains of the first team since 2014. A leader on and off the field, his football is a blend of passion and tactical excellence

Javier Mascherano was unveiled as an FC Barcelona player on August 30, 2010 after the Argentine’s successful spell in the Premier League with Liverpool. The 'Little Chief', as he is affectionately known, is a player who has earned the respect of all wherever he has played. He made his professional debut under Manuel Pellegrini at River Plate, curiously enough after already having made his international debut for Argentina in a game against Uruguay.

After impressing with River for two seasons Mascherano moved to Corinthians in Brazil, winning the league title. His performances alerted European clubs and he was on the move once again when West Ham United secured his services. The London club bought him and his Corinthians team-mate Carlos Tévez for a combined fee of $35 million.In January 2007 he moved again, this time to Liverpool, but missed out on the Champions League win over FC Barcelona that spring. At Anfield he formed a lethal midfield trio alongside Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso. During his three-and-a-half years at the club, Liverpool reached the Champions League final but failed to win any silverware. Mascherano was hungry for trophies and sensed it was time to move on.

On August 30, 2010 Mascherano signed a four-year contract with FC Barcelona, where he was brought in to bolster the centre of midfield alongside Busquets and Touré, before the latter departed for Manchester City. Due to the many injuries suffered by team-mates, the Argentinian progressed from a supporting role to being a central component of the first eleven in his first season. At first he was an alternative for Busquets in midfield, but with Puyol, Milito and Abidal all sidelined, he slipped back into defence and proved excellent in that position, which is where he played when winning his first Champions League winners medal at Wembley.

The 2011/12 season saw Javier Mascherano once again demonstrating his versatility as cover for injured absentees. Mainly featuring at centre back, he played a magnificent part in the successful assaults on the Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup, Club World Cup and Copa del Rey. He made 52 appearances and became a fixture in the starting eleven under Pep Guardiola.

The following season, 2012/13, saw the Argentine continue to play almost exclusively at centre half. He featured in 41 matches, starting them all in defence until knee ligament injury picked up against PSG forced him to miss the final part of the campaign.

2013/14 was the Argentinian’s fourth at FC Barcelona, and he remained a first choice in the middle of the defence, playing in 46 games and making it to 150 in the derby with Espanyol at Camp Nou.

Mascherano and Gerard Piqué became the first choice pairing at the back under Luis Enrique in the 2014/15 season, although the former was often moved up the field to stand in for Busquets. He soon made it to 200 games for the Club. Reaching that milestone in the cup game with Huesca at Camp Nou on 16 December 2014.

Mascherano is the only Argentinian player to have won two gold medals at the Olympic Games. After securing his first at the games in Athens in 2004 he then helped his country to further success at Beijing 2008, where he played alongside Lionel Messi. The two Barça players also appeared together for Argentina at the World Cup Finals in Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010, where the South Americans went out in the quarter-finals on both occasions and then again at Brazil 2014, where the team went all the way to the final only to lose to Germany.That disappointment was repeated the following year when in 2015 Mascherano was part of the Argentine side that lost to hosts Chile on penalties in the final of the Copa América.

Javier Mascherano made his official debut for the Club on 11 September 2010 in La Liga against Hércules at Camp Nou. The match ended with a 2–0 defeat for Barça.

Technical profile

Javier Mascherano plays with authority and strength. The Argentine is a born leader who is crucial to Barça's defensive scheme, sweeping up and spotting danger before anyone else. He made his name as a defensive midfielder but as a blaugrana he has played mainly at centre half. Technically equipped to play either role, his strong points are his tactical discipline, his positioning and his reading of the game.