Back in 2011, Javier Mascherano was asked to do the impossible. A natural defensive midfielder, he was tasked with replacing the legendary Carles Puyol to partner with Gerard Pique in the center of the defense for a squad with constant Champions League and La Liga title aspirations. Since that time, he has started two Champions League Finals, both resulting in victories, and served as the cliche “humble servant” more times than Cules can count.
Mascherano’s goal-scoring record for Barcelona may be a perfect example of the player’s character. He has scored just once since 2010, a penalty kick that he was forced to take by his teammates and one he admitted he would rather have had his countryman Lionel Messi take instead. In his time in a Blaugrana shirt, he has always valued team success over personal glory, and regardless of the conditions of his exit, he should be remembered fondly for his career at the Camp Nou.
In a team with the quality that Barcelona has, players on the fringe of the starting line-up who would be immediate starters on almost every other team on the planet often leave for that guarantee. Whether it was Pedro to Chelsea or Marc Bartra to Borussia Dortmund, these players did the right thing for their personal careers, even if Barcelona’ depth suffered at the time.
Having made over 200 appearances for the club, the 33-year-old may be looking for one more pay day after losing his starting spot to Samuel Umtiti. Umtiti’s recent injury may be framing Mascherano’s apparent desire to leave the club as selfish, but soon enough Umtiti will return and Barcelona may be wise to strengthen their backline defense with youth in January anyway.
Francesc broke down the potential departure of Javier Mascherano in the latest edition of ‘The Barcelona Podcast’ at: