Javier Mascherano Open To Premier League Return


Mascherano is not ruling out a return to the Premier League if he leaves Barcelona and said he would be open to joining a club other than Liverpool.

However, the Argentina international played down the notion he could be set for a reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

Mascherano, 31, joined Barca from Liverpool in 2010 and has enjoyed huge success at the Camp Nou, winning La Liga three times and the Champions League twice, as well as two Copas del Rey.

Even so, he remains open to the prospect of a return to England, although he does not expect former Barca boss Guardiola to get in contact when he takes charge at City in the summer.

“No, no, Pep is not going to call me,” he told The Independent. “He will not call me, no, no, no — but returning to the Premier League? I don’t know.

“My feeling for Liverpool does not mean I’m tied to them. If in the future a Premier League team was interested in me and I had the chance to go back, you can’t say: ‘No, I would only play for one team.’ I don’t know what I would do.”

Mascherano, who has said Rafa Benitez rescued his career when he took him to Anfield, still speaks highly of Liverpool and believes Jurgen Klopp is a “perfect coach” for the club.

“[Klopp] is very much of the people,” he said. “He likes to get close to people and that is what the people of Liverpool are like. I always say that nowhere have I been treated as well as I was treated there.”

Mascherano was established as a defensive midfielder when he arrived at Barca but Guardiola converted him into a centre-back.

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The player said that had never been his plan when he moved.

“No, no, no,” he said. “I had no idea and, sincerely, after five or six months of being here it looked as if I would not be staying for very long. My strengths seemed to be in complete contrast to the style of the team.

“Throughout my whole career I have been a physical player who contains the opposition; a defensive player who doesn’t get involved in the attack, but here the style of play is to always go on the attack!”

He added: “I knew in terms of being a regular starter I was not going to be able to take Busquets’ place. It’s impossible. He is very, very good, and for Barcelona he is perfect.”

Should he leave the club, he expects to return to his previous role, admitting that — standing at less than 5-foot-9 — he is more naturally suited to midfield than central defence.

“I still feel like a central midfielder and one day I will not play any more for Barcelona and I will go and play somewhere else and I’m sure I will do so as a central midfielder,” he said.

“Being a central defender for Barca it is not like being a centre-back for any other team. The part of the pitch that you end up playing in is very similar to the part you would inhabit if you were playing in midfield. The only thing that changes is that I receive the ball facing the pitch, and not with my back to the play.

“If you take me back to defend in my area the whole time, then obviously I am going to suffer more because of my physical stature.”

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