Writer: Gavin Kelley-Day
Date:Monday February 17 2014
Former Reds midfielder Javier Mascherano has finally spoken about his unsavoury departure from the club in 2010...
Ask Liverpool supporters about Javier Mascherano the player and you will get a unanimous thumbs up.
The Argentine was a full-bloodied colossus during his three-and-a-half year spell on Merseyside.
His astute positional sense allowed the likes of Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres to flourish safe in the knowledge that behind them was one of the modern game's greatest defensive midfielders.
Unquestionably Mascherano's presence in front of the back four has been sorely missed since his departure, especially with Lucas Leiva absent for lengthy periods through injury.
Ask Liverpool supporters about Javier Mascherano the man however and you will get a completely different reaction.
In addition to a couple of on-field moments of madness, 'Monster Masch' left Anfield under a massive cloud.
With a protracted £22million move to Barcelona dragging on, the former West Ham United enforcer reportedly refused to play in a fixture against Manchester City in August 2010.
The Etihad encounter ended in a 3-0 defeat and Roy Hodgson, Kop boss at the time, subsequently commented: "It is not easy for me to defend the actions [of Mascherano] because professionals are paid to play and when they are called on to play, they play.
"It is just a selfish situation that they have got something they want to do and they just expect the club, and therefore you as one of the leaders of the club, to bow down and accept that they are going to do it."
After completing his switch to the Nou Camp, Mascherano remained tight lipped on the matter and to many his silence helped to perpetuate the image of yet another footballing mercenary.
Now though, 42 months on from the event, the 29-year-old has finally decided to give his side of events.
In an interview published by The Times, Mascherano refutes the claim that he refused to play and accuses both Hodgson and Liverpool's ex-managing director Christian Purslow of breaking promises to him.
"I did not wake up one day and refuse to play," explains the South American. "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 sense...
"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...
"The people who were there at the time - the manager and Christian Purslow - 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 they never kept their word...
"I wanted to leave in another way, but they never gave 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."
It's no exaggeration to say we've not been the same side since Mascherano left. Like Alonso before him, the Argentine left a gapping whole in the spine of Liverpool's team. In some ways it's irrelevant who is telling the truth over whether or not he refused to play because he was always going to leave anyway. The club was in such a state financially off the field, and treading water on it, that all our key players were giving serious consideration to moving on at that time. £22million represented good business for a club close to going into administration and the likelihood is the men in charge wanted to sell equally as much as Mascherano wanted to further his career.
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Date:Monday February 17 2014
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