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Javier Mascherano: A disgrace

It has been reported that Javier Mascherano has refused to play in tonight’s Liverpool game against Manchester City, with the reason being he is demanding a move to Barcelona. Mascherano has been left out of the squad but the player and club have yet to confirm the reason why.

Mascherano has refused to play for Liverpool

If this is true it is an absolutely disgraceful treatment of Liverpool FC and its fans.

Javier Mascherano has more reason than most players to be thankful to his club. After a high-profile move to West Ham, the Argentine began to suffer along with compatriot Carlos Tevez. While their ability was not in question, neither player was able to perform at their peak as questions surrounded the legitimacy of the deal that brought the pair to London.

When Rafael Benitez stepped in to sign Mascherano he offered the player a lifeline and Mascherano began to pay off the estimated £18m transfer fee with a string of impressive performances in the centre of the park. Under a coach with tactical prowess, the Argentine blossomed and was names the fans man of the match against AC Milan in the 2007 Champions League final. His performances were crucial as part of the team that came so close to Premiership glory in 2009.

Mascherano was also named as Argentina captain in November 2008 by incoming coach Diego Maradona. Tonight Mascherano was expected to line up in a crucial game against Man City but has dealt the club a bitter blow by refusing to make himself available for selection.

The tough tackling midfielder was made Argentina captain in 2008

This is an absolutely disgraceful decision. There are reports that Barcelona have offered £12m plus Hleb and Caceres and Liverpool have rejected the offer. Whether this is the reason Mascherano has gone on strike remains to be seen, but the club are not acting in any way unfairly by refusing the offer. Hleb and Caceres are not believed to be wanted by Roy Hodgson and Mascherano is probably the best defensive midfielder in Europe right now, so in fact the offer is desultory. Liverpool should make Mascherano play in the reserves rather than accept an offer of half what he is worth, particularly from a club who seem so willing to spend £40m on Cesc Fabregas.

Another disgrace is Mascherano apparently agreeing “personal terms” with the Catalan club. Under the rules of transfer activity, the clubs must agree that (a) the player is available for sale and (b) a transfer value. In this case Liverpool have made clear they want to keep the player but will accept an appropriate offer.

While from a personal point of view it is easy to sympathise with Mascherano, he has crossed a line tonight and will never wear the Liverpool shirt again. That his family are unhappy in England is a genuine reason to need to leave. However to effectively strike after his recent comments that he loves the club and fans and would like to play for Liverpool (just in another country) is an appalling way to treat the club and fans just weeks later.

Cesc Fabregas has his heart set on Barcelona. It is obvious for all to see. But as Arsenal captain he has knuckled down and decided that since the club do not want to sell, he stays and will no doubt play his heart out for the club. He came on against Blackpool at the weekend with a smile on his face.

In contrast, Mascherano came off after a terrific performance against Arsenal clutching a hamstring. That injury ruled him out of Liverpool’s Europa League clash with Trabzonspor making him free to play in Europe with a new club. However with the return leg approaching Maacherano knows he needs to move soon as Hodgson would no doubt play him on Thursday and thus he has orchestrated this act of petulance, on the eve of a massive game for the club.

Now is a true test for Hodgson to show he won’t tolerate this behaviour from the players. Unless the right offer comes in, Mascherano should be forced to stay at the club that rescued his career. The Argentine need look no further than the man who replaces him against City tonight, Lucas. The Brazilian has endured nothing but abuse since arriving at Liverpool from pundits and a majority of Liverpool fans. In the face of this, he has knuckled down and always gives his all – Shame on Mascherano.

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