World Cup year generally tends to heighten the frequency of summer transfer gossip, but the newly-found wealth of Manchester City and ailing fortunes of Liverpool mean that such conjecture is likely to be particularly intense this time round. If you’re like me, you’ll probably be bored already of the daily rumours concerning the whereabouts of Fernando Torres’ and Steven Gerrard’s employers next season, but the re-emergence of uncertainty surrounding Javier Mascherano seems destined to complete a tiresome trio of summer speculation.
Bizarrely, Liverpool’s number twenty recently chose to publicise details concerning last summer’s flirtations with Barcelona. Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, the Argentina skipper said, “The situation with Barcelona really affected me. It was a shame it didn’t happen as it was the city where I wanted to live.” Mascherano further added, “There were many discussions and problems during that month and a half. They were difficult times for me. One day I was off to Barcelona, the next I wasn’t. And Liverpool said I was non-transferable. Psychologically, it affected me as I couldn’t think in Liverpool and I was focused on other stuff and not on my work, my training and playing.”
Opting to reveal such worries is of no tangible benefit to the club or Mascherano’s Anfield career, so the decision to do so is puzzling. The speculation last summer and failed transfer clearly affected the Argentine, as his form at the beginning of last season was noticeably poor. However, the midfielder seemed to have put such thoughts to the back of his mind, and his form visibly improved – by the end of the season he was a genuine contender for Liverpool’s player of the season. Talks emerged of a new contract for ‘El Jefe’, with the player himself stating that, “The reality is that I am very happy at Liverpool and that I want to know what the club’s plans are and we will see if, at this point, I can renew my contract.” However, unlike Pepe Reina, who did put pen to paper, Mascherano has delayed the signing of his deal.
His failure to commit and Barcelona’s reported desire to sign Mascherano again will undoubtedly set alarm bells ringing at Anfield. Factor in the uncertainty over manager Rafael Benitez’s Anfield future, Liverpool’s failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League and Mascherano’s well-known desire to play at the Camp Nou and it is clear that Liverpool may find themselves in the midst of another transfer saga this summer. The Anfield side’s reported pursuit of Mascherano’s Argentine compatriot Ever Banega suggests that the club are bracing themselves for the resumption of the Javier Mascherano soap opera.
Although a world-class player, I personally do not feel that Mascherano is indispensable in the way that Gerrard and Torres are. No fan wants to see their team keep hold of players who do not wish to remain at the club, so should ‘El Jefe’ decide to leave this summer, I hope he does so with the minimum of fuss.
Follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/zarifrasul