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Getting To Know: Javier Mascherano

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 05:  Javier Mascherano of Barcelona controls the ball during the la Liga match between Barcelona and Real Zaragoza at the Camp Nou stadium on March 5, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 05: Javier Mascherano of Barcelona controls the ball during the la Liga match between Barcelona and Real Zaragoza at the Camp Nou stadium on March 5, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
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Full name: Javier Alejandro Mascherano
Squad No: 14
Position: Defensive midfielder
Date of birth: 8 June 1984
Place of birth: San Lorenzo, Argentina
Height: 1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)
Weight: 74 kg (163 lbs)

Born in a relatively small town called San Lorenzo, located 350 km (220 miles) to the NW of Buenos Aires, Javier Mascherano started playing football very early in his life. He enjoyed his youth football years with Club Atlético River Plate based in the neighborhood of the capital. He joined River Plate's senior team as a 19 year old where he stayed two seasons. He appeared in 46 games for his youth club and in his second season he scored his first professional goal, the only one in his River career.

After two impressive seasons his talents caught the eye of Corinthians, a Brazilian team who acquired his services for US$15 million. He joined the team mid-season and after a good start he suffered a season ending injury. He also started the next season injured and in the summer he was sold to West Ham United for an undisclosed fee. Mascherano's time at Corinthians wasn't very satisfying as he only played in 28 games in just over a year. He never managed to score for the São Paulo based team.

His time at West Ham was a miserable one. The deal that sent Mascherano (and Carlos Tevez) to the Hammers was an unusual one as he was officially never "owned" by the team, but was under control of a billionaire and a TV company. His stay at Upton Park was supposed to be a "long term lease", but after only five games he left West Ham for the greener pastures of Liverpool.

Initially "El Jefecito" joined The Reds on a six month loan, but after the conclusion of the loan period a permanent transfer was arranged. The transfer cost Liverpool £18.6M. With a regular starting spot waiting for him, the Argentinian was now finally able to play to his full ability. Javier developed into one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. Mascherano appeared in the Reds uniform on 139 occasions, also scoring two goals in under four seasons. His stay at Liverpool ended in controversy, as he stated he will never again play for the team and will go on strike until the club allows him to transfer to FC Barcelona.

A transfer fee of €20.5M was set and Mascherano was able to join the Catalan giants. Despite being one of the best in the business, he wasn't able to win the starting defensive midfielder spot from Sergio Busquets. So far Javier played in 30 games for the Blaugrana and improvements in his play have been noticeable from one game to next.

Javier made a name for himself in international football even before he was known for his work on the club level. He played in every youth level team Argentina had and his first senior international debut came on July 16 2003 in a friendly against Uruguay, before he played a single minute for River Plate's first team. He is a key member of La Albiceleste and after Javier Zanetti retired from international fooball he was named captain of the team. Mascherano has 64 appearances for Argentina's senior team and he has scored two goals for The White and Sky Blue, both in the 2007 edition of Copa América.

Profile
Javier "Monster Masch" Mascherano is a tireless explosive midfielder known for his no fear attitude going into tackles, awareness and positional sense. He is superb when tracking back to win tackles and he reads the play very well. Mascherano has tremendous leadership abilities, but his temperament can sometimes get him in trouble. His passing is accurate, but is limited by his vision and passing range, also his long range shot lacks accuracy.

Honors
CA River Plate

  • Turneo Clausura (1): 2003-04

SC Corinthians

  • Campeonato Brasiliero Série A (1): 2005

Argentina

  • Olympic Gold Medal (2): 2004, 2008

Upon his arrival at Camp Nou Javier Mascherano signed a four year deal that will end after the conclusion of the 2013-14 season.

Next up: Seydou Keita

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