Signed by Liverpool from West Ham United in January 2007, Javier Mascherano has established himself as the pillar of the Reds' defensive midfield play. His dynamic and ruthless attitude on the field has made him one of the most likeable players at Anfield and the Argentine certainly packs a vicious punch when it comes to controlling Liverpool's conservative midfield setup.
Mascherano will feature heavily in Rafa Benitez's plans for the upcoming season and given his performances of last; Liverpool's success in the domestic and European arenas would heavily revolve around the former River Plate, Corinthians and West Ham player. Sometimes temperamental, Mascherano is a fierce competitor and he rarely allows the opposing players to take control of the midfield. Aggressive in his tackling, the diminutive Argentine makes light of his lack of height by his determination and power to win every ball in defence and midfield. Alongside Torres he was the outstanding player at Liverpool last season and if the Reds have any hope of challenging for the title, then Mascherano's role cannot be underestimated.
A regular in the Argentine senior national team, Mascherano has been included in next month's Beijing Olympics to spearhead the country's defence of the gold medal won in Athens four years ago, which would mean Mascherano missing a couple of games at the start of the coming season. Javier will certainly be missed and in all honesty it is total travesty that Liverpool is prevented in withdrawing a player, who as a professional football; really has no place in taking part in what is an amateur spectacle.
One criticism that has often been sighted at Javier Mascherano is his lack of goals; however I challenge any Liverpool fan to pinpoint a defensive midfielder who provides more. With an array of attacking talent that the club possesses in midfield areas and Rafa's formation dictating their attacking tendencies; the need to have a spoiler and somebody who will break up attacks and counters is never greater and in the Argentinean they have the vital component.