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Mascherano suggests Messi is pacing himself for the World Cup

by Heath Chesters | Posted on Friday, November 1st, 2013

Javier Mascherano has spoken about current affairs at Barcelona, with a particular emphasis on the Argentine contingent at the club, during an interview with a popular magazine based in his native country.

Javier Mascherano

During an interview with Argentine magazine ‘El Gráfico’, Barcelona central defender Javier Mascherano gave some insights into matters regarding the team, Tata Martino, Lionel Messi and himself.

Addressing the debate that has stayed in the Spanish media suggesting that Barcelona aren’t playing the same sort of possession controlling game, with Tata Martino at the helm as manager, Mascherano dismissed there being any such drastic changes and simply suggested that sometimes during matches, a direct approach to getting the ball forward quickly, is more suitable.

“Against Rayo we won 0-4, but they had more possession than us. 51% to 49% I believe, but it’s an absurd media debate, right? The team is playing the same way. Now though, if there’s the chance of getting towards the rival goal with three passes, we’re not going to do twenty passes to suit our opponent.”

Asked his thoughts about his manager, Mascherano admitted that he’d been surprised by Barcelona’s choice at first, but indicated his comfort working with Martino, revealing words that the Argentine coach had spoken to the players, upon his arrival.

“He’s a serious manager, who likes his work and doesn’t ask you to do difficult things. At the start I was surprised he came here, not because of his capability, but because it’s not common for a South American coach to come into one of the giants of European football. When he arrived, he told us ‘I am not going to change anything, but I will recover things that I have seen this team do, which in the last few years, they haven’t been doing’.”

Given the injury problems suffered by Lionel Messi in recent months, Mascherano explained that his club and international team-mate is taking things a little steadier, trying not to risk further injuries.

“He’s aware of what’s been happening this season and is trying to prevent anything stopping him from being in the best shape for the World Cup. That has made him pace himself more.”

Finally, Mascherano admitted keeping in regular contact with his former Liverpool manager Rafa Benítez, but flatly refused any suggestions that he would be interested in joining him at Napoli, following recent media speculation.

“Before I came to Barcelona, I was close to moving to Inter Milan. I always talk with Rafa Benítez. Would I move to Napoli? I’m fine here thanks and he knows that.”

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