Javier Mascherano pulled down the curtain on his illustrious playing career, as the tough-tackling midfielder announced his retirement on Sunday.
The 36-year-old first came to English football in 2006, when along with Carlos Teves, he controversially made the move to West Ham.
Less than 12-months later he joined Liverpool, where after an impressive loan spell he made his transfer permanent in February 2008.
He made more than 100 appearances for the Reds, before in 2010 he moved to Barcelona. At the Nou Camp, he would win every club honour available, including five La Liga titles in Champions League.
During his international career, he earned 147 caps for Argentina, making him the most capped player in their history.
After spells in China and with Estudiantes back in his homeland, Mascherano confirmed his decision to reporters on Sunday.
In a press conference in Argentina, he said: “I want to announce that today I am retiring from soccer professionally.
“I want to thank this club that gave me the opportunity to finish my career in Argentina.”
During his club and international career, he teamed up with a host of players labelled as some of the best in history.
- The XI is made up of players who made the most appearances alongside our featured player or for our featured manager. We’re not looking for an overall ‘Best’ XI, and the player/manager himself isn’t in it.
- For a player, the appearance numbers are based on the time they spent on the pitch at the same time as our main man, factoring in both club and international level.
- This isn’t necessarily the eleven players who’ve spent the most time on the pitch with/for him, just the eleven that would fit into a working team.
- We’re not going to come up with a Garth Crooksesque formation, but we might name subs if we feel like it.
- All minutes played and appearances stats are courtesy of transfermarkt.co.uk.
- Don’t get angry in the comments section.
Here is Mascherano’s Ultimate XI of former teammates:
Goalkeeper: Victor Valdes
Appearances with Mascherano: 131
Mascherano’s keeper for the first four years of his spell with Barcelona, the pair won two La Ligas, a Copa del Rey and the Champions League together.
Right-back: Dani Alves
Appearances with Mascherano: 226
Joining just two years before Mascherano, the pair won every trophy they could before he left for Juventus in 2016.
Centre-back: Jamie Carragher
Appearances with Mascherano: 122
Perhaps surprisingly, the only Liverpool inclusion. Carragher’s reliability meant he was most often the man lining up with Mascherano during his spell at Anfield.
Centre-back: Gerard Pique
Appearances with Mascherano: 122
Mascherano lined up with Pique at centre-back for much of 2011 and the pair helped the Catalans beat Manchester United in the Champions League final at Wembley that year.
Left-back: Jordi Alba
Appearances with Mascherano: 160
Part of the all conquering Barca team that won four domestic crowns in six years, as well as the Champions League in 2015.
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Midfielder: Sergio Busquets
Appearances with Mascherano: 266
The Spaniard’s stunning longevity means he is the only player still remaining from that famous Barcelona midfield that Mascherano struggled to break into after signing.
Midfielder: Xavi Hernandez
Appearances with Mascherano: 175
The man many label as one of the best midfielders of all time, Xavi was already a club legend by the time Mascherano arrived and continued for a further five seasons.
Midfieder: Andres Iniesta
Appearances with Mascherano: 243
Both left in 2018, but only after establishing Barcelona as the greatest club side of all time. Won a staggering 25 major competitions in total with the club.
Appearances with Mascherano: 144
Arriving in 2013, the Brazilian helped to prolong the La Liga giants’ era of dominance.
Forward: Lionel Messi
Appearances with Mascherano: 413
With almost 200 appearances more than any other player, Mascherano played the majority of his career with the ‘GOAT’. As well as their ridiculous successes at club level, they also won the Olympics together in 2008. Aside from that, it was a case of what could have been. Finishing as runners-up in the World Cup and Copa America.
Forward: Pedro Rodriguez
Appearances with Mascherano: 183
Often the forgotten man of that Barca team, the former Chelsea man played a key role. Including scoring in the 2011 Champions League final.
Subs: Pepe Reina (130), Adriano (128), Ivan Rakitic (133), Steven Gerrard (116), Dirk Kuyt (127), Luis Suarez (124), Alexis Sanchez (105).