This is outstanding news, news I’ve hoped to see for months now.
Liverpool now has 4 world-class players tied to long-term deals: Gerrard, Torres, Reina, and now Mascherano, and I do not use the term ‘world-class’ lightly. Mascherano is the best defensive midfielder around, period.
I’ve seen articles in the media and around the blogosphere claiming Mascherano makes Liverpool too defensive, or that Liverpool needs to focus on attackers and not holding midfielders, but to put it bluntly, that’s nonsense. Without Mascherano, many of the games Liverpool’s drawn this season would have been losses, and the situation surrounding the club would be far more severe.
The foundation is certainly there, and the squad isn’t far away from a title contender, no matter the results so far this season. I know that results haven’t backed that up far too often, but you can’t compare the squads between this season and last season, let alone between this season’s and the one Benitez inherited. There’s been more than enough analysis of why Liverpool’s struggled this season, but it hasn’t all, or even mostly, been because of personnel.
For all the complaints about the off-field turmoil (and I’m still furious over Hicks’ foolish remarks yesterday, the selfish blowhard), Liverpool’s spent big money on both Skrtel and Mascherano since the turmoil started.
I’ve long passed the point where I can tolerate Hicks, and I’ll admit it took me longer than others to reach that conclusion. But hopefully these signings demonstrate that the financial situation hasn’t handcuffed Liverpool to the degree we’ve feared.
Back with the Bolton preview shortly.