Javier Mascherano reveals how Benitez used pebbles to make him sign for Liverpool

Liverpool have Rafa Benitez and a collection of pebbles to thank for Javier Mascherano signing for the club in 2007, in what proved a “great decision” for the midfielder.

The Argentine signed for the Reds in 2007, initially on loan, after only six months with West Ham, a move that helped transform Liverpool’s midfield.

Mascherano only played at Anfield for three seasons, but the tenacious midfielder made a significant impact as a world-class talent who formed part of the ‘best midfield in the world’.

In the end, he featured 139 times for the club, a tally made possible thanks to Benitez and his convincing argument that was accompanied by props!

In an interview with Movistar Deportes Peru, Mascherano explained: “When I realised that I wasn’t playing [for West Ham], my idea was to leave in the winter market.

“I don’t know how Rafa Benitez found out that I was going to leave but he contacted me.

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA - Thursday, February 25, 2010: Liverpool's Javier Mascherano celebrates scoring the equalising first goal against FC Unirea Urziceni with team-mate Yossi Benayoun during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 2nd Leg match at the Steaua Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“One day he came to my apartment in London to convince me to sign for Liverpool, because I was already thinking about leaving England, he stopped me.

“In the talk we had, I remember that we were sitting on a sofa and there was a table with pebbles, he began to explain to me with the pebbles where I had to play.

“He was clear and he told me what I could give to the team, what none of those already in the squad could.

Liverpool, England - Friday, March 2, 2007: Liverpool's Javier Mascherano with manager Rafael Benitez and Jamie Carragher during training at Melwood ahead of the Premiership match against Manchester United at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“I thought about it for a week and finally the transfer was finalised. Luckily I made a great decision because four months later we were playing in a Champions League final with Milan in Athens.”

Mascherano came close to lifting the European Cup with Liverpool in 2007, but, sadly, his Liverpool career would end without an honour.

Now 39, Mascherano is nearly four years into his retirement and is the current manager of Argentina’s U23s side, who are preparing for the Olympics this summer.