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Liverpool redeemed their long gone glorious past to some extent under Rafael Benitez whose ‘Rafalution’ set English football by storm. He won the prestigious Champions League title by staging a dramatic victory against mighty AC Milan at Istanbul in 2005. It was only his debut managerial campaign in England and the Spaniard earned a cult status after acquiring a double (FA Cup along with Champions League) at the beginning his Premier League realm.
The former Valencia gaffer took Liverpool to the Champions League final for the second time as well, but AC Milan defeated them that time. Benitez also came close to winning the long-awaited Premier League title only to finish as runners-up behind arch-rivals Manchester United. Rafa’s squad is still considered the best Premier League side to have not won the title and the Reds are yet to find quality alternatives to a plethora of players brought in by the Spanish gaffer.
Xabi Alonso, who is one of the best out of the lot, has now retired following glorious spells with Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Javier Mascherano also had a momentous spell yet failed to win silverware during his time at Anfield. Liverpool had a downfall since Rafa’s egress and an ownership qualm made things worse for the Merseysiders.
Mascherano went on to complete a move to Barcelona, where the Argentine linked up with his fellow countryman Lionel Messi. The midfield trio of Mascherano, Alonso, and the iconic Steven Gerrard was one of the best things to ever happen in Premier League history and the Reds fans still recall those spectacular yet under-achieving years of amazing football.
Alonso was linked to a possible return to Liverpool time and again until he hung up his boots. Reports from Diario Gol suggest that Mascherano could join Liverpool, and this is the latest rumour that is gathering pace due to Mascherano’s popularity during his three-and-a-half year spell at Liverpool. The 33-year-old Argentine veteran could leave on a Bosman transfer next summer despite being under contract until 2019.
Mascherano has been shifted to central defence from a midfield role at Barcelona and he has lost his regular status under new gaffer Ernesto Valverde, who is eyeing to develop a squad for the longer run. The Argentine international won two Champions League as well as four La Liga titles for the Catalan supergiants and will continue to be an asset due to his quality, versatility as well as experience.
However, it remains a major doubt as to whether Jurgen Klopp will bring him back to Anfield. The German gaffer doesn’t prefer a defensive midfielder in his system and the fact that Mascherano will be 34 next summer, will be a problem since Klopp prefers his team play a high pressing game for 90 minutes.
Mascherano can play as a makeshift centre-back but the Reds need a couple of natural central defenders to bring an end to their defensive frailty. Klopp must look to strengthen that area in January as both Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan have failed to register themselves as first-team regulars to partner Joel Matip.
Liverpool have a host of midfield options and they need a couple of top-notch defenders who will offer quality as well as offer them long-term service.
“I’m always analyzing my situation. I do not rule out anything, I do not want to be a prisoner of my words, I will seek my happiness.”
Keeping emotions aside, Mascherano is not a requirement now and Liverpool must look at other options. All that Liverpool need now are two centre-backs and one striker considering this could be Daniel Sturridge’s last season in Liverpool colours.