Javier Alejandro Mascherano (Spanish pronunciation: [xa??je? mast?e??ano]; born 8 June 1984) is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a defensive midfielder or centre-back for Chinese club Hebei China Fortune. Nicknamed El Jefecito (The Little Chief), Mascherano is a versatile and tactically intelligent footballer, with an excellent ability to read the game and organise his team; he is known in particular for his leadership skills, passing accuracy, tough marking of opponents, and hard-tackling style of play. Regarding Mascheranos playing style, Jonathan Wilson noted in a 2013 article for The Guardian that he was an example of a type of holding midfielder that he dubbed a destroyer, who clattered about making tackles and collecting bookings, his role almost entirely of regaining possession and distributing it simply.Mascherano began his career at River Plate, where he earned his first senior honours, the Primera División Argentina, in 2003–04. He moved to Brazilian side Corinthians in 2005, winning the Brazilian Série A in his first season. Mascherano then moved to Europe, signing for Premier League side West Ham United, but his brief time at the club was blighted by unusual contract terms with Global Soccer Agencies. At the beginning of 2007, he joined Liverpool on loan, reaching the final of the UEFA Champions League, before he signed with the club for £18.7 million. After three years playing for Liverpool, Mascherano joined Barcelona in 2010, where he changed his position of defensive midfielder to full central defender. With Barcelona, he won five La Liga championships, two UEFA Champions League titles, and two FIFA Club World Cups, among other honours.
Mascherano made 147 appearances for the Argentina national team and is the most capped player in the countrys history. From his debut in 2003 until his retirement in 2018, he represented the nation at five Copa América tournaments, finishing runner-up in 2004, 2007, 2015, and 2016, and four FIFA World Cups, reaching the 2014 final. He twice won a gold medal at the Summer Olympics, in 2004 and 2008, becoming the first male footballer to achieve this double feat since 1968. Between 2008 and 2011, Mascherano served as the captain of Argentina.