MASCHERANO OUTSHINES MESSI
Javier Mascherano has been named Barcelona player of the season 2013-2014. He is the fifth winner of the Memorial Aldo Rovira award beating the likes of Neymar, Messi and Andreas Iniesta. According to the clubs official website, Mascherano was voted unanimously by senior figures in the Catalan and Spanish Media.
Mascherano brought in by Guardiola as a defensive midfielder has featured mainly at the heart of defence and was an ever present figure during the ill-fated Martino era last season. Many pundits have labelled him as the clubs best central defender despite the fact that he is a midfielder. His willingness to play anywhere on the pitch has been brilliant. He averages 3.2 tackles and 1.7 interceptions per game and a pass accuracy of 93.2% as per @whoscored.com.
An ecstatic Mascherano accepted the award; ‘I thank all of you who voted for me to receive this prize. We’ll try to continue doing things as well as we have until now, with the same dedication while trying to stay faithful to what a club like this demands, which is a lot’.
He carried his form to FIFA World Cup 2014 where he was amongst the leaders in tackles, balls recovered and distance covered among midfielder’s. Many remember him for the game saving last ditch tackle against Arjen Robben in the semi-finals that definitely propelled Argentina to the finals. In the extra time talk in the same match before penalties, it was once again Mascherano and not Lionel Messi the captain, who was giving the team talk, innovating and inspiring his troops. Former Argentina coach and Icon Diego Maradona once said that his team consisted of ‘Mascherano and ten others.’
He is only the third player to win the award since its formation after Lionel Messi (thrice) and Eric Abidal, who received it in recognition for his battle with cancer in 2012.