This summer is one of the most crucial summers in Liverpool’s history in my opinion. I don’t think I am overstating the magnitude of the changes that lie ahead for the Merseyside club as debts of £237m, saddled with £40m a year interest payments and a club for sale, off field matters are really affecting many matters on the pitch. Rafa Benitez’s future is uncertain and there is little money to spend to rebuild a squad which failed to achieve a Champions League place finish last season. With all this turmoil, our rivals in Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur have capitalised on our troubles, and with City with unlimited funds and Spurs in the Champions League, next season could prove a challenge to even finish fourth, let alone attempt to go for the title, if a big overhaul of who runs the club and who plays for the club is not committed to. For this reason it is essential that whoever plays for the team is 100% committed to the cause.
Last summer, there were rumours of both Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano leaving for Spain, and while only the former left the club, there was still suspicion over the latter as to why he wanted to leave. As the season progressed, Mascherano appeared to be content to stay at the club, and talks about a long term deal to stay at Anfield were on the cards. In recent days though, we have learned that such talks have stalled and that any discussions about a new deal for the Argentinean captain will have to wait until after the World Cup. In the News of the World yesterday, Mascherano discussed his feelings about the rumoured move to Barca last year
“The situation with Barcelona really affected me. It was a shame it didn’t happen as it was the city I wanted to live in. There were many discussions and problems during that month and a half. They were difficult times for me. . . Psychologically, it affected me as I couldn’t think in Liverpool and I was focused on other stuff and not on my work, my training and playing.
He then went on to discuss his families’ lonely existence living in England:
“What kills me about living in Liverpool is that there are only two Argentineans here with me, Emiliano Insua and Maxi Rodriguez. Insua and I live in a private neighbourhood. He lives in one tower and I live in the other. There are 15 metres between us and we used to look at each other through the window. . . I have no problem living in Liverpool, but I think my wife and daughters deserve to enjoy every day to the full and live their lives – but they have to be at home all day. My wife doesn’t speak a word of English, so she depends 100% on me. I live here with them. That’s my world, that’s my life.”
Without being too harsh on Mascherano and his family, they have lived here long enough to learn the language which would help them develop relationships with those outside his Spanish speaking team-mates. Everyone knows it can be difficult for foreign players to adapt to English culture, it can be difficult even for some Englishman sometimes, but it seems the issue really troubles Masch.
Possibly the club could do more to help Mascherano and his family integrate into the culture better but if his wife doesn’t even speak a word of English after living here for four years then perhaps there is no motivation on their part to adapt to the country. The description of Mascherano and Insua looking through the window at each other on a cold wet, winter’s day paints a pretty sad, lonely picture, and if I was in his shoes, I would feel the same sort of isolation. No doubt he enjoys playing football for Liverpool but it seems the lifestyle in this country doesn’t suit him and his family. Barca seems to be a shining beacon for him and his family to have a lifestyle similar to something they had back in Argentina. As a player, you could not ask for more commitment on a football pitch but as he said, he is not been all there recently and the issues have meant he has struggled psychologically.
During this difficult time for the club, we need players who are really committed to the club and have the desire to play for Liverpool. The stalling over the contract puts a question mark for me over Mascherano’s head, and although he has been a colossal figure in the spine of the Reds midfield, if he really feels it’s the right thing to move for his family, then we should let him do it. If we could £30m or more for him, it could be used by Rafa to revitalise and start the rebuilding process which will be so vital in this critical summer for the club.
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