Wednesday 18 October 2017

Money cannot buy history, Mascherano tells sheikh after scoffing at idea of Eastlands move

Tony Barrett

JAVIER Mascherano has insisted that not even the prospect of playing for the club dubbed the richest in the world would tempt him to leave Liverpool for Manchester City.

On the eve of a crucial meeting between the clubs, the outcome of which could alter the balance in determining who finishes in the top four, Mascherano claimed that it is history and prestige that matter most to him, not money.

In a shot across the bows of Sheikh Mansour and his cash-fuelled City revolution, the Argentina captain admitted his fears that City could go on to buy lasting success a la Chelsea if they do manage to claim a Champions League place -- but he recoiled at the suggestion that such a scenario would make the Manchester club attractive to him.

"Maybe if City got in the top four they would build on that like Chelsea, but I will say one thing: you can buy stars, but you cannot buy history," said the midfielder.

"At Liverpool we play with the history of the club. We don't have the money that they have, but we are proud to play for Liverpool. I don't want to play for Manchester City. Yes, they have money and they are building a good team, but I am still proud to play for Liverpool.

"I think Manchester City respect Liverpool. I think they know we have some very good players too and we will fight until the end. Then we will see what happens."

Although City have shown no interest in acquiring Mascherano's services -- Roberto Mancini, their manager, is not short of holding midfield players, with Nigel de Jong, Patrick Vieira and Gareth Barry all available to him -- the 25-year-old would undoubtedly fit in with Mansour's vision of signing players who are among the best in the world in their position.

Tellingly, although Mascherano had his head turned by Barcelona last summer, to the point at which he was considering leaving Liverpool, he remains adamant that big-spending City are not yet blessed with an allure similar to that of either the reigning European champions or his present employers.

But he is also aware that, for the sake of Liverpool's immediate future, holding off the threat posed to their top-four status, by City in particular, is of paramount importance.

The Reds are fifth, a point behind City, who have a game in hand. Mascherano does not believe, though, that the issue will be resolved at the City of Manchester Stadium tomorrow, regardless of the outcome.

"It is an important game for us and for them, but I don't think it will decide anything," Mascherano said.

"I was reading some things with people saying this is 'the final', but it isn't. There are still a lot of games to play. Yes, it is a crucial game. They have spent a lot of money to be in the top four. More money than us.

"They are a good team with good players, but we have very good players too.

"We are Liverpool and we have to be in the top four because of the history of this club.

"We don't think too much about them. It will be very good for us to win there because if we win there we will be in the top four again and they will be behind us."

Despite the rivalry and keen sense of competition between the clubs, Mascherano's close friendship with City forward Carlos Tevez has meant that his thoughts in the build-up to tomorrow's encounter have been dominated by the health of his international team-mate's baby, who was born prematurely in Argentina this week.

City are not expecting Tevez to have returned from his homeland in time for the game, a factor that Mascherano believes could be significant, but the Liverpool player is in no doubt that Tevez is right to put his family first at this time.

"It will be good for us if Carlito cannot play because I know how good he is," Mascherano said. "I don't know if he will play or not. I spoke to him and said congratulations for the new baby.

"I was worried because the baby was born before the due date; it was difficult for him. I don't know whether he will continue in Argentina or come back and play on Sunday.

"The main thing for me is that he is happy and the baby is well. If he plays, he plays. The family is the main thing."(© The Times, London)

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