This week has seen the start of the Barca Blaugranes Awards. The first award was for the best player, Lionel Messi, and for Barca B, it went to the departing Jonathan Soriano. No-one could have been surprised by either of these recipients, as they were just head and shoulders better than their world-class colleagues.
However, I think you may be surprised by the winner of this award for best signing.
The nominees are David Villa, and £30 million man, Ibrahim Afellay, the bargain, who has only donned the Blaugrana colours since January, Adriano, the versatile wing-back, who has proved a revelation since filling in for Eric Abidal, and Javier Mascherano, the most surprising of all the signings.
And the winner is...
Javier Mascherano! This may surprise some, but El Jefecito has been so good, that all the Blaugranes writers voted for him ahead of Villa and co.
Mascherano signed for Barcelona in the summer, after a prolonged saga with former club Liverpool. So determined was sMasch to get his dream move that he refused to play and took a wage cut.
His start for Barca was less than remarkable, as his debut was in the disappointing 2-0 defeat to Hercules. Critics came out of the woodwork, and Mascherano was made a scapegoat by the media for Barcelona’s poor start to the season. Harsh perhaps, but it did not affect Mascherano.
Maradona always said that his team was "Mascherano and 10 more" during his tenure in control of the Argentine national side, and El Jefecito slowly, but surely began to show why.
His passing was getting better, his distribution from the back crisper, his positioning was somehow improving, and he even started to cause the opposition a few problems. Personally, I thought Mascherano was a great signing, even before his turn of form, but now we were all seeing that the £22 million price tag was a bargain.
Unfortunate injuries to Puyol and Abidal meant that Barca were short of centre-backs, step forward Javier! His transfer from defensive midfield to the centre of defense was seamless, and Mascherano was beginning to win the Blaugrana points.
While David Villa scored one of the goals in the Champions League Final, Mascherano saved Barca from certain elimination with this tackle of Nicklas Bendtner.
Mascherano. El Jefecito. The signing of the season.
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