Barcelona star Javier Mascherano says would not let his feelings for Liverpool stop him from joining one of the Reds’ Premier League rivals.
Mascherano moved to Barca from Anfield in 2010 after a three-and-a-half-year stay on Merseyside, which came to an end following the sacking of manager Rafael Benitez.
The club was in disarray under American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks meaning a £17.25million from Barca for the central midfielder was too good to turn down – for Liverpool and Mascherano.
The Argentina star has since established himself as a centre-half at the Nou Camp but Mascherano accepts he cannot maintain the standards demanded by Barca forever.
When that day comes, Mascherano told The Guardian he would be willing to play for another Premier League team, despite his affinity with Liverpool.
“My feelings for Liverpool don’t mean I’m tied to them, he said. “I have a lot of affection for them and always will have, but if in the future a Premier League team gave me a chance, you can’t say: ‘No, I’d only play for one team,’
“We’re professionals, this is our living. Whatever happens, my feelings for Liverpool won’t change.
“Liverpool were one of the best teams I played for [but] the club had problems. I never met the owners. Liverpool is a club to enjoy, to be there, to live. It’s not worth owning Liverpool 20,000km away; it belongs to the people and you don’t get that if you’re never there.
“It’s a pity. I always felt the club was trying to take a step forward but couldn’t. Now with Klopp they’re trying. He’s a manager for Liverpool – very much of the people. Nowhere has anybody treated me so well. I was sad that I had to go the way I did.”
Despite the adulation Mascherano received at Anfield, the 31-year-old knew it was time to leave, especially when Barca made their move.
“What happened is what had to happen,” he added. “They promised me that if there was a good offer they’d release me because the club was in a process of disintegration.
“But [the club] didn’t always tell the truth; it’s the player whose image gets damaged, the same happened to Fernando Torres, but things were clear: I never lied. When Rafa went, they knew I’d leave. I felt the project was falling apart. Rafa had gone, there was no direction.
“And the offer was Barcelona.”
Mascherano laughed off the possibility of a reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
“Pep’s not going to call me,” Mascherano laughs. “He won’t call. No, no, no.”