Former Liverpool midfield dynamo Javier Mascherano has finally broken his silence and revealed the true story behind the claims that he refused to play for the Reds against Manchester City in August 2010 before completing his move to Barcelona.
The Argentine star, who was one of the key figures under Rafael Benitez, chose to join Barcelona, but it is the manner of his departure that has left a bad taste in the mouth for all Liverpool fans ever since.
Mascherano didn’t play against Manchester City, as the Reds suffered a 3-0 defeat under then Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson, who criticised the Argentine for creating “a selfish situation” and having “had his head turned” by Barcelona.
After three-and-half-year silence, Mascherano felt the time is right to say the truth. The Barcelona said as quoted by The Times:
“I didn’t want to say anything at the time because of my respect for Liverpool. I did not want to say anything about a club that had been so good for me, so I kept my mouth shut.
“Maybe that was a mistake, because it allowed other people to say bad things about me. But I do not regret it. Liverpool is a special club and it does not deserve to be treated badly. The people who were there at the time — the manager and Christian Purslow [the former managing director] — have gone now but they know the truth. When I went back to Liverpool for pre-season I had a lot of meetings with them and they were promising a lot of things to me but never kept their word.
“I did not wake up one day and refuse to play. In the game before City we played against Arsenal and I gave everything because I was wearing the Liverpool shirt. Why would I do that and risk getting injured when I knew that Barcelona were close to signing me and then refuse to play in another game? That doesn’t make any sense.
“We had been talking about completing the transfer for 20 days because the club also wanted to make it happen, but then they started to make things difficult for me. It was very sad for me to leave Liverpool in the way that I did because being with them was one of the best moments in my life.
“The people treated me really well and I would never want to let them down. I wanted to leave in another way, but they didn’t give me the chance to. That is the truth. It left me with a bad feeling. My time at the club was over and I needed to move on, but I also needed to leave the club in a good way and that wasn’t allowed to happen.”
Mascherano joined Barcelona for a reported fee of €24 million in 2010. Since then, he has made 95 league appearances with two goals to his name. During his time with the Blaugrana, he has won two league titles and one Champions League.