By Sean Hartnett
Want-away defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano pulled out of Liverpool’s lineup just hours before their 3-0 defeat to Manchester City. It was the latest of stunts and public pleas made by the unhappy Argentine in an effort to move away from Anfield Road.
Mascherano (photo), who was once popular amongst Liverpool supporters ruined his favorable perception by coming off as a “woe is me” character in a mid-May interview:
“What kills me about living in Liverpool is that there are only two Argentineans here with me, Emiliano Insua and Maxi Rodriguez. Insua and I live in a private neighborhood. He lives in one tower and I live in the other. There are 15 meters between us and we used to look at each other through the window,” he told the Guardian.
Reds manager Roy Hodgson has held firm in trying to keep the midfielder’s value high by deflecting notions that the club have to sell Mascherano before the summer window closes in seven days. Liverpool’s boss told reporters, “The fee that the club thinks is the correct fee and one that has been offered are very far apart and unless that can be resolved he might be unhappy for a long time.”
Ideally, Hodgson is hoping for the right offer to made by Barcelona so he doesn’t have a malcontent figure disturbing club chemistry until January or possibly even as long as next summer. Barcelona continues to drag their heels over agreeing an adequate fee which is irritating to Liverpool supporters as the Catalan club were so aggressive in their failed bids for Arsenal’s Cesc Fàbregas. A resolution shouldn’t come down to the “eleventh hour” as Barcelona is eager to buy the midfielder and despite their brave public face, Liverpool are desperate to sell.
Once he officially exits Merseyside for the sunny beaches of Spain, Mascherano won’t be receiving the same hero’s sending-off as Xabi Alonso did when he moved to Real Madrid last summer. Alonso in many ways was the opposite of Mascherano as he was always a cool, classy figure while at Liverpool. Even when he privately fell out with former manager Rafael Benítez, he quietly let things transpire behind the scenes to complete his move to the Santiago Bernabéu.
While his popularity was high at Anfield, Mascherano still had his bizarre moments that left Kopites shaking their heads in disgust. The midfielder often made wreck-less challenges that resulted in a sending-off and an early shower.
His most high-profile dismissal occurred at Old Trafford in March 2008 when Liverpool were battling rivals Manchester United. Head referee Steve Bennett finally had enough and sent-off Mascherano after he continued to show dissent, constantly arguing every call. He was walking a thin-line after being carded earlier in the match and the incident underlined the lack of maturity that was often displayed by the future Argentina skipper.
That day, Mascherano let down his Liverpool teammates by failing to control his emotions and effectively ending the Reds’ title hopes for the 2007-08 season. Now in the present, he is again letting down the club that had resurrected his career after a horrible spell at West Ham. He was saved by Liverpool who helped develop him into one of the best defensive midfielders worldwide and where he achieved a reputation worthy of being handed Argentina’s captaincy.
Mascherano owed the club greatly after his West Ham failure and repaid Liverpool by putting in gutsy performances during his time at Anfield. His time with the Reds will be looked upon as an overall good relationship but one that soured as last season he began to make waves about not getting his transfer wish. In securing a move to Barcelona, his selfishness will leave a permanent bad taste in the mouth of the majority of Reds worldwide.