The fallout from a supposed calamitous season for Barcelona will continue for months over the course of the summer, as the Catalan giants look to restructure following the reign of Gerardo 'Tata' Martino.
Many have been talking about the 'death of Tiki-Taka', as though one poor season signals and end to Barca achieving anything in the near future and while it is true that their era of dominance is definitely over, one can't help but feel that if they were to invest in some proper defenders and play their best players in their best positions, they could return to the top of their self-made pedestal.
One of the players who loses out by this however, is Javier Mascherano - with the Argentinian international having been played out of position at centre-back for the majority of his Barcelona career and his natural anchorman role in the side currently occupied by Sergio Busquets, arguably the finest in the world in that position.
Mascherano has already indicated his desire to return to the Premier League, and with the midfielder reportedly being made available for transfer by Barcelona this summer, it is reportedly Liverpool's old rivals Manchester United who are leading the chase for his signature.
United's midfield options were a cause for concern last season as they often proved much of a muchness, providing neither attacking flair, nor defensive bite, with it becoming alarmingly apparent how simple it appeared to break through the Red Devils' midfield resistance.
Mascherano would definitely aid the defensive aspect of United's game, having won 59 tackles for Barcelona this season, more than any United player has won this season, despite having featured in just 28 games for La Blaugrana.
This has ensured that he has won an average of 2.25 tackles over a 90 minute period for Barcelona, an average that only Marouane Fellaini and Tom Cleverley can claim to just about best in United's midfield options, while normal holding midfielder Michael Carrick has won just 1.60 tackles per 90.
Mascherano has also made a very impressive 83 interceptions in 28 La Liga appearances, making 3.16 for every 90 minutes played, again outstripping any United player, with Carrick leading the United effort having made 2.98 interceptions per 90.
The Argentine midfielder can also claim to have improved his passing game and ball retention, completing over 1300 passes with an 89 per cent passing accuracy throughout the league season for Barca, with no Manchester United player having a better passing accuracy and only Darren Fletcher and Cleverley being able to match it in the midfield.
Should Mascherano be available for sale at Camp Nou this summer, any Premier League team worth their salt should be keen on bringing the Argentine terrier back to English soil and Manchester United could definitely benefit from his presence in the team.
Whether Mascherano would take the move - given a lack of Champions League football and strong ties with Liverpool still - would be an obstacle to overcome, but with a lack of fight a clear feature of United's midfield in the season just finished, it should be a switch they should put all their energies into.
They do have enough creative midfielders and would benefit perhaps from one more, but the startling lack of bite in the midfield was a contributor to their fall from grace and should Mascherano be on the market and open to a move to Old Trafford, he is a must for whoever does eventually take control of the club.
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- Manchester United
- Javier Mascherano