Javier Alejandro Mascherano is an Argentine footballer who plays as a central defender for FC Barcelona and a defensive midfielder for Argentina national team. Mascherano began his career at River Plate. He earned his first senior honours in 2003–04, winning the Primera División Argentina. He also won an Olympic gold medal with Argentina in the Athens Games and finished runner up in the Copa América 2004. He moved to Brazilian side Corinthians in 2005, winning the Brazilian Série A in his first season. Mascherano moved to Europe, signing for Premier League side West Ham United. However, unusual contract terms with Global Soccer Agencies blighted his brief time at the club and at the beginning of 2007 he joined Liverpool on loan. He was runner up in the UEFA Champions League in his first season on Merseyside and again finished runner up in the Copa América with Argentina. He officially signed for Liverpool in February 2008 for £18.6 million, parting ways with Global Soccer Agencies. He won a second Olympic gold medal with Argentina in the Beijing 2008 Games, the first male footballer to achieve this since 1928. He was considered a key part of the national side by past coach Diego Maradona who appointed him captain and stated that his team was just Jonás, Mascherano, Messi and eight more. Mascherano's two most used nicknames (in Argentina) are Masche and El Jefecito (The little chief). Former Argentine footballers Jorge Valdano and Jorge Solari regard him as possibly the best central midfielder in the world. Mascherano also holds an Italian passport, which makes him eligible as an EU player.
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