"I’m with the best club to win titles"
Mascherano told us, "The demands of a club like Barça will help me improve as a player". The midfielder explained that he comes here “to learn from the best” and that he’s excited by the prospect of playing alongside so many World Cup winners.
Humility and ambition are the two words that characterize Barça’s latest signing. Javier
Mascherano gave an interview to Barça TV at the end of a very busy first day at the Club. The
captain of Argentina is anxious to learn all about his new club and is excited by this new
What were you willing to do to join Barça?
"There are so many things you always have to do but in the end it’s down to the club.
When this chance came up I didn’t hesitate. I’ve joined the best club in the world and
the best team in the world. Training alongside the players you have here at Barça is really
I said that because the Club has thanked you for your attitude, which was vital to close
"I’d also like to thank the Club for their efforts. They’ve spent a lot
of money and it was my duty to give way a bit to make this dream come true”.
Were your final days with Liverpool difficult? Did you suffer?
"Yes. When they started to involve my family and to say things that
didn’t make sense, I obviously suffered. They’d promised me something for a whole year
and they never fulfilled their promise. And that didn’t have anything to do with my family or
anything else. When you read or hear lies, you obviously get angry”.
What did you learn in the Premier League and with Rafa Benítez that could help you here?
"The rhythm and dynamic in the Premier League are completely different from other leagues.
And the physical contact. And Rafa Benítez taught me tactics. He’s one of the coaches who
have taught me the most in my career and I’m very grateful to him. He was fundamental. He
gave me the chance to join Liverpool. He had confidence in me at a time when, perhaps, nobody would
have dreamed of giving me an opportunity. I’ll be grateful to him all my life”.
What’s the first thing you remember about Barça?
"People in Argentina follow European football a lot. When I was a boy, you could watch the
Italian and the Spanish leagues on TV. I remember Bobby Robson’s Barça, with Ronaldo. I was a
great admirer of Ronaldo because of the way he played and I followed them closely that
Do you remember Guardiola as a player?
"He’s one of this club’s all-time great midfielders. He established a way of
playing. After him came Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Fabregas, loads of players who have made it to the
first team and who keep on coming, because Barça moulds players with a particular stamp. Guardiola
created all this. He established a different way of playing in this position”.
What do you think of him as a coach?
"You just have to look at his achievements. As a coach you
can see that he’s very sincere. He shows that in the press conferences and in the dugout. You
can see he’s a professional, that he gives everything to football. I think he lives for it
and from what Leo has told me I think he’s obsessed with his work. That’ll be great for
me especially since he’s played in my position so I’ll learn a lot. That’s really
Since you arrived in Barcelona on Saturday, Messi hasn’t left your side. How
important will Leo and Gabi Milito be in helping you settle in?
"They’ll be very important because they’ll be the link with the rest of my
team-mates. But in general, whenever I’ve joined a new team I’ve adapted to the squad
very quickly and I don’t think I’ll have any problems. Especially since I know this is
a great bunch of people. I think it would be difficult to have any problems with the people there
What’s the first piece of advice you’ve been given about Barça?
"To relax and enjoy myself. But obviously I know that I’m here to work hard because
it’s a great team. There’s an established team with players that have been here for two
or three seasons. The team’s won the lot. I’ll try and do my bit and when I play
I’ll try and do my best”.
People say you get on very well with Leo Messi. How did that friendship grow up?
"During our time together with the Argentina national team. Our
friendship has grown much stronger over the last few years. We’re been through a lot
together. We’ve had some tough moments in the national team. That’s the best way to
grow closer. When a group of colleagues has a difficult time and gets criticised, the best way to
counteract that is to close ranks. We’re become close friends and I hope that lasts a long
time in Barcelona”.
In Barcelona we’re always worried about how Messi will be when he comes back from
playing with Argentina. He’s had a difficult time.
"Leo is expected to be to be the saviour. There’s no doubt that he’s
the best player in the world but he can’t win matches on his own. He needs a team to support
him. I think he knows that we support him in the national team and we know what he can do. But then
there are the comparisons and the results. If the result isn’t good people always single him
out. Leo is the biggest asset we have and unfortunately we don’t know how to enjoy him.
Let’s hope people stop making comparisons and let him be Messi. Let’s let him play the
way he likes”.
What surprises you most about Leo?
"His modesty. He doesn’t realise how far he’s got. And that surprises
me. It’s his best quality. He’s a fantastic person who doesn’t have an arrogant
word in him. At his level, that kind of modesty is worth a lot”.
Let’s get back to Barça. Are you motivated by the demands of playing here?
"It’s what will help me grow and not settle for what I have. It’s a really
important challenge. You dream all your life of joining a club like this. I’ll seize this
opportunity and try and stay here as long as possible”.
You haven’t won a club title since you’ve been in Europe. You must be really
hungry for titles.
"On a personal level that’s one of my challenges. I haven’t had the good fortune
of winning anything in Europe and I wouldn’t like to say at the end of my career that I
didn’t have the opportunity. Right now Barça has players that haven’t got tired of
winning. You can see that from the outside. In every game they want to keep on showing that
they’re the best”.
You have the reputation of being a real character and a leader on the pitch. Is that true?
"I have my character but I’m not mad. I’m quite a calm person. Perhaps I change a
bit when I’m on the pitch but to lead you have to set an example. It’s not down to me
to say I’m a leader. I’ll do my best to help Barça stay on the same track”.
The Barça style is very attacking and the central midfielder has a lot of responsibility.
Do you think you’ll adapt quickly?
"I’m pretty confident of it. I’ll do everything I can to adapt quickly. But when
you’re surrounded by great players and a team that’s playing well, you always adapt
more quickly. If you join a club like this you don’t have any excuses”.
Did you watch Barça last weekend? What did you think?
"The same as always, especially in terms of attitude. A
team can have good performances or bad but this team as the attitude to go out and win. There were
moments when they didn’t have possession but they were always up for it and that shows the
ambition these players have to keep on winning”.
Did you keep a close eye on Sergio Busquets?
"I did because he’s a great player. In spite of his age, he’s already got a lot
of experience. He’s a world champion. He’s been a very important player for Barça over
the last year and a half and I try and watch and learn from the best. Busquets is doing a good job
so I’ll try and watch him and support myself on him. This isn’t a fight between
Busquets and Mascherano. In no way whatsoever. It’s a long season, there are a lot of matches
and we have to be ready when it’s our turn”.
With Argentina you play alongside the best player in the world, but what does it mean to
play with Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta and Villa?
"It’s incredibly exciting because they’re great players who make difficult
football seem simple. What I’m most excited about is learning from them. I’m coming
here to learn and to be a better player. This move has to enable me to say in two or three years
that I’m a better player than when I arrived”.