Javier Mascherano believes the way Liverpool play under Jurgen Klopp is “nothing like” when he was at the club, praising their “evolution” into a “more complete side.”
When Mascherano made the decision to leave the Reds in 2010, he was one of the few players in Roy Hodgson’s squad still operating at world-class level.
He went on to forge a successful career at Barcelona, winning La Liga five times and the Champions League twice, following that up with two triumphs in the Club World Cup among other honours.
After two seasons with Hebei China Fortune, he is now back in his native Argentina with Estudiantes, still going strong at 35, and gave an interview with local outlet TyC Sports during the season’s break.
In this, he discussed the managers that shaped his career, before turning his focus to Jurgen Klopp—one he has not worked under, but has clear admiration for having transformed his former club.
“The team that continues to surprise me with the evolution it has had is Liverpool,” he explained.
“It is clear that Klopp has put it together in his image and likeness.
“I am 10 years behind, I see how we played at Liverpool then and it is nothing like what I see today.
“I have been following Klopp since he coached Dortmund, which was a pressing team similar to what Liverpool does today.
“Before it was much more direct, but he has now added positional play.
“That evolution is what I like because, in the end, it ends up being a more complete team. It has all facets and shows different styles.
“They can counter-attack, they also press you high and if they have to play in their own half, like against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, they also do it.”
Klopp has clearly moulded Liverpool in his image, which was one of the big attractions prior to his arrival to take over from the departed Brendan Rodgers; his success with Dortmund was a blueprint.
It is much different to the football played in Mascherano’s most prominent years at Anfield under Rafa Benitez, and while both proved successful, the Argentinian may be correct to describe the current vintage as “more complete.”
This is what has led the Reds to the brink of the Premier League title, and an achievement that neither Benitez or Rodgers was able to reach.
Mascherano is one of the players from that era that would most suit Klopp’s system, but now looking from the outside in he is simply a keen admirer of a side whose “evolution” has brought glory to Merseyside.