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Javier Mascherano: 'Lionel Messi has not changed since last summer'

:Headline: Javier Mascherano: 'Lionel Messi has not changed since last summer': ID:436601: from db_amp
The 33-year-old told the Catalan giants he wanted to leave last August.

Javier Mascherano insists he has seen no difference in former Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi after his attempts to walk away from the club last summer were thwarted.

Messi told the Catalan giants he wanted to leave in August last year, believing he could do so on a free transfer under a clause in his contract, which is due to run until the end of the current campaign.

However, the 33-year-old Argentina international reluctantly opted to remain at the Nou Camp after Barca insisted that clause had expired and it would cost a suitor 700million euros (£601million) to prise him free and while his future remains uncertain, compatriot Mascherano is convinced his on-field contribution has not waned since.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi, centre, made a record 506th LaLiga appearance for the club against Cadiz (Joan Monfort/AP/PA)

Speaking as he was unveiled as the latest LaLiga Santander Ambassador, he said: "I see him happy in Barcelona.

"Even though the club is not doing extremely well, football-wise the way he is playing and how he moves on the pitch haven't changed from what I have seen in the past 15 years, so in that sense what I see him as extremely well."

Messi joined Barca as a 13-year-old and made a record 506th league appearance for the club in Sunday's 1-1 draw with Cadiz.

Asked what advice he would give his former international colleague as he contemplates his future, he replied: "I would never dare give any advice to Leo Messi.

“As a friend, I will support whatever decision he makes, but I would never dare give any advice as to what he needs to do”
- Javier Mascherano

"First of all, I think it's a very, very personal decision that he'll talk over within his family circle. But from the professional standpoint, it's a decision he and only he can make.

"As a friend, I will support whatever decision he makes, but I would never dare give any advice as to what he needs to do."

Former Liverpool star Mascherano, 36, made 334 appearances for Barcelona during a seven-and-a-half-year stay and boasted two Champions League successes and five LaLiga titles among his lists of honours by the time he left for Chinese side Hebei China Fortune in February 2018 before hanging up his boots after a spell back in Argentina with Estudiantes.

He admits football away from the rarefied atmosphere of the top echelons of LaLiga came as something of a culture shock.

Asked if he missed playing alongside the very best, he replied: "Yes, you do miss it and you also suffer a bit because when you grow used to having the best by your side, when you don't... Football is a group sport, so the better your team-mates are, the better you are going to play.

"After leaving Barcelona, you experience the real world of football and when we get together with former Barcelona team-mates, we do realise and we do share that Barcelona was amazing with what we were lucky enough to experience but to a certain extent, there's a huge void when you leave so in that sense, you do suffer."

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last updated article - 2021-02-24 16:51:26:
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3Leicester CityLeicester32185958372159
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5West Ham UnitedWest Ham32167953421155
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs331581056381853
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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City33245469244577
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd32199464352966
3Leicester CityLeicester32185958372159
4Chelsea321510750311955
5West Ham UnitedWest Ham32167953421155
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs331581056381853
7Liverpool32158954381653
8Everton31147104340349
9Arsenal32137124436846
10Leeds UnitedLeeds32144145050046
11Aston Villa31135134435944
12Wolverhampton WanderersWolves32118133241-941
13Crystal Palace31108133352-1938
14Southampton32106164058-1836
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3298153553-1835
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton32713123338-534
17Burnley3289152645-1933
18Fulham33512162543-1827
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom3259182862-3424
RSheffield UnitedSheff Utd3242261756-3914
Scroll for more - Tap for full version
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