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Barcelona hero Javier Mascherano has opened up on the chat he had with Lionel Messi after the forward handed in a transfer request.
The Argentine shocked the footballing world when he told the Nou Camp side he wanted to leave after 16 seasons with the Spanish team.
He was linked with a £450m move to Manchester City in a reunion with Pep Guardiola – but he performed a U-turn this month.
And Mascherano, who won five La Ligas and two Champions League honours with Messi, admitted he got in touch with the forward after the drama.
Speaking to Radio Metro, the former Barca man said: “It is difficult to imagine Messi outside the club.
Javier Mascherano has opened up on a chat he has with Lionel Messi after the Barcelona star handed in a transfer request
(Image: LA LIGA)
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“He is the most important player in the history of Barcelona. He has been a very important piece, if not the most important.
“Beyond the friendship I have with him, I would have been sorry if he left badly.
“At times like this, I’m not interested in bothering Messi. I spoke and expressed my support, but neither by investigating too much.
The Barca captain sent a burofax to Nou Camp chiefs saying he wanted to end his time with the La Liga giants
(Image: 2020 Icon Sport)
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“I talk with him often, I let him know that it was a joy for me that he stayed.”
The feeling was the same within the Barca team, with Sergi Roberto admitting they were as surprised at Messi’s transfer desire as the fans.
He told Spanish outlet RAC1: "I thought the same as all the Catalans, that it could not be true that Messi did not continue with us.
"I cannot imagine a Barca without Leo and I crossed my fingers so that he would stay. I see him training very well.
And Mascherno, who won five La Liga titles with Messi at Barca, said he 'expressed support' for the forward
(Image: 2017 Manuel Queimadelos Alonso)
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“He is a very professional player and I have no doubt that he will always give 100 per cent for this shirt and this club."
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu was at the centre of the drama – and has now opened up on how the pair have left it.
And he made an X-rated rant at his team-mates in the captain’s his first game since his U-turn.
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