Javier Mascherano
Javier Mascherano says he was forced to improve upon moving to Barcelona in 2010Getty Images

Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano says he was forced to "grow" and "improve" after leaving Liverpool for the Catalan giants.

The 30-year-old moved to the Nou Camp in 2010 and has gone on to win 10 major honours across five seasons at the club.

Mascherano left Liverpool for a move to the La Liga giants, bringing an end to a three-year spell at Anfield that was illuminated by an appearance in the 2007 Champions League final.

Having being moved permanently from midfield to become an auxiliary defender, a role he has occupied throughout Barca's recent success, Mascherano admits that after leaving the Premier League, he was forced to raise his level.

"Yes, I had to grow, to improve a lot [after leaving Liverpool]," he told Sky Sports. "Before I came to Barcelona, I only thought about one facet of the game, destroying, destroying.

"My qualities were completely defensive and I would try to give balance to the team, to destroy the opposition's game, and I wouldn't take responsibility for organising my team's game, our attacks.

"I've always believed that training with great players makes you a better player. And that's what's happened to me. I think that nowadays I'm an improved player in many areas of the game, particularly when it comes to creating.

"I've improved my short and long passing, my control, obviously I'm never going to have the quality of Busquets, Xavi or Iniesta, but I can deal with situations that before I maybe would have struggled with."

The inauspicious circumstances surrounding Mascherano's departure from Liverpool were revealed in 2014, when the Argentine said then manager Roy Hodgson and former managing director Christian Purslow's treatment of him was linked to his premature exit.

But Mascherano still has fond memories of his time in the Premier League and says during his spell with West Ham United and the Reds he studied Claude Makelele meticulously in an effort to model his game on the Frenchman.

"In my position, I've always admired Makelele," he added ahead of the Champions League final. "I grew up watching him play. I was able to play against him in the final stages of his career at Chelsea when I was at Liverpool.

"I've always liked his way of playing football and given my position and style, he's been a mirror to compare myself against."