Javier Mascherano has been publicly angling for a way out of Liverpool for over a year, spitting in the face of the club that made him the star he is today.
Plucked from the shadows of West Ham’s substitute bench at the beginning of 2007, Mascherano went from battling for a first team spot against the likes of Nigel Reo-Coker and Hayden Mullins to taking the stage in Liverpool’s starting line-up against AC Milan in a Champion’s League final in the space of five months.
This belief in his ability seems to have been eradicated from the player’s memory. With the emergence of interest from Barcelona in acquiring his services last year, Mascherano’s head seem to have been spun and any loyalty from a player in his position you would expect was thrown out the window.
This was evident in his inability to put it behind him when the move didn’t materialise and he endured a disappointing start to the start of last season citing the pursuit of Barcelona hindering his form.
There have been countless number of players down the years that have been subject of summer-long transfer speculation, stayed at their clubs and went on to have fantastic season. One great example would be Cristiano Ronaldo; publicly courted by Real Madrid almost every summer after he hit the big time only to stay with Man Utd and break record after record.
Mascherano’s transfer from Liverpool is inevitable, it could be a sweeping generalisation but loyalty from Argentine players in the Premiership is something of a rarity. On the same note it could be cultural; the lure of playing for the likes of Barcelona or Inter Milan may be the pinnacle of football for players from Argentina.
Especially if you consider some of their most famous exports have played for these clubs, such as: Maradonna, Zanetti, Messi, Riquelme, Crespo, Passarella and Simeone.
What Mascherano needs to do now is come out publicly, face the fans and say ‘Yes. I want to leave Liverpool’ no more of this hiding behind agents and the like. The fans will respect him for his decision and hopefully understand his reasoning and for having the balls to do it in public.
This needs to happen as soon as possible if Liverpool is to be ready for the new season; this cannot be dragged out until the tail-end of the transfer window.
Mascherano looks to be commanding a transfer fee in the region of £20-£30m with Inter Milan his most likely suitors and linking up with former manager Rafael Benitez, the very man who said he wouldn’t sell him for £50m.
His departure would leave a hole but not one that couldn’t be filled. Standard Leige’s Steven Defour and Juventus’ Christian Poulsen have been touted as possible replacements both valued at around £10m, would leave a significant amount of change to invest in the squad.
Take Mascherano out and replace him with either of these players and the team isn’t significantly weakened, some might argue that the team would be improved as Defour and Poulsen would both offer more of a goal threat.
After a replacement has been found the club can then look to bring in more players with the remaining funds.
Left-back still needs to be taken care of with a maximum of £6m being spent in that position which will come out of the £12m transfer kitty, leaving £6m left over, add that to the change from the Mascherano transfer and the club could be looking at an additional £16m-26m to spend on new recruits.
Spent wisely, on one or two quality strikers and the club could be in possession of one of the league’s finest squads, plenty of depth in most areas and capable of competing on all front and most crucially of all, dealing with injuries.
Dare it even be said; A squad capable of winning the league this season?
Only time will tell of course but as good a player as Mascherano is sure he might save the odd game but will never be a player to win one and his departure may be the key to Liverpool gaining more game winners and the players they so desperately need.