Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara has paid tribute to his former Barcelona teammate Javier Mascherano after the former Argentina international announced his retirement.
Mascherano, 36, called time on his illustrious playing career over the weekend, with the former Liverpool star closing the book on a 17-year career that saw him clock up 21 honours at club level.
“I want to announce that today I am retiring from soccer professionally,” said Mascherano on Sunday evening.
“I want to thank this club that gave me the opportunity to finish my career in Argentina.”
The 2014 World Cup finalist spent more than three years at Liverpool having been snapped up by Rafa Benitez from West Ham in February 2007.
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An initial loan deal from the Hammers was delayed for a month after an appeal to FIFA to allow the transfer to go through was met with complications over ownership rights.
The deal was made permanent 12 months later for a fee of £18.6 million.
Mascherano went on to clock up 139 appearences for Liverpool in that time, scoring two goals, he also started in the 2007 Champions League final defeat to AC Milan in Athens.
He wanted to join Barcelona in the summer of 2009 not too shortly after Liverpool’s 86-point finish in the Premier League table, but the Reds refused to entertain a move. Mascherano stayed for another season before leaving for Camp Nou for £17.5 million during the first few weeks of Roy Hodgson’s Anfield reign.
Mascherano was transformed into a central defender under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona and won the Champions League twice, including a 3-1 victory against Manchester United in 2011 at Wembley.
After the game, he famously said: “I want to say, I know that Liverpool supporters, after my exit, I know they were a little bit sad with me – this is for them as well.”
It is easy to forget that both Mascherano and Thiago played together at Barcelona before the Spanish international departed for Bayern Munich in 2013.
The £25 million Liverpool addition has sent a classy message to his former teammate following the Argentine’s retirement.
Thiago’s post read: “What a career, Masche. And what learning by your side. Good luck @Mascherano!”
And the former Liverpool man’s response was just as nice.
“It was a pleasure watching you grow @Thiago6”.