Reports: Ex-Liverpool star set for dramatic Merseyside return
What's the story?
Javier Mascherano has been very outspoken about the possibility of leaving Barcelona, and has made several mentions of his desire to end his career at River Plate over the last few months. The Argentinian centre-back has also spoken of his admiration for the MLS and has said that he would consider offers from America.
According to reports, Mascherano's previous employers Liverpool are interested in signing the central defender, and will prepare an offer in January. Mascherano was revered by Liverpool fans during his first spell at the club and will be welcomed back with open arms.
In case you didn't know...
Mascherano began his career at River Plate, where he spent three years before moving on to Corinthians. Mascherano was sidelined for much of his spell at the Brazilian club, but still managed to impress in the few starts he made, and his performances attracted the attention of several European clubs.
Mascherano moved to West Ham United in the summer of 2006 but struggled for appearances in his first few months in London. The move was mired in controversy, and Mascherano went to Liverpool on loan after just four months. West Ham were eventually fined £5.5 million on charges related to third-party ownership, and the centre-back made his move to Liverpool permanent.
He quickly became a first-team regular at Liverpool and gained a reputation for being a hard-tackling, no-nonsense midfielder. The Argentinian moved to Barcelona in 2010, where he was converted into a central defender by Pep Guardiola. Mascherano has since gone on to win a host of titles with Barcelona and he has cemented his place in the Barcelona defence.
The heart of the matter
Even though Mascherano has a contract with Barcelona till 2019, he has discussed the possibility of leaving Barcelona after the World Cup. Mascherano is now 33, and the prospect of joining an MLS team could persuade the Argentinian to head for greener pastures. Mascherano's Argentina and Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi also recently stated that Mascherano could be headed to Liverpool in the imminent future.
Liverpool have struggled defensively in recent years, and have already conceded 17 goals in only 11 Premier League games this season. The Reds did not sign a centre-back in the summer transfer window after their much-publicised attempt to buy Virgil Van Dijk ended in failure. The addition of Mascherano could help them address this issue and tighten up their defence.
While Mascherano was benched for a string of games in the beginning of the season, the veteran defender has managed to prove himself to Ernesto Valverde, and has started four of Barcelona's last seven league games. It seems unlikely that he would leave Barcelona in the middle of the season, and Liverpool's need for a defender is too pressing to wait till the season ends.