El Clasico
Javier Mascherano won the Champions League in 2011 with BarcelonaReuters

Javier Mascherano has hailed his decision to leave Anfield for Barcelona, claiming the Catalans let him achieve his Champions League dream after Liverpool were defeated by AC Milan in the 2007 final.

The Argentina international joined Liverpool from West Ham United in 2007 and quickly became a favourite for both the manager, Rafa Benitez, and the supporters.

But after three-and-a-half seasons at the Premier League giants, Mascherano decided to leave Merseyside following Benitez's departure, completing his move to Barcelona for around £20m in the summer of 2010.

Mascherano has said he was first in negotiation with Inter Milan, Benitez's side at the time, for a move to Serie A but once Barcelona approached him, he did not hesitate to join the Catalans.

"It was a very long summer because it was in between World Cup years and I remember Rafa started calling me and, frankly, I would have liked to work with him," he said, according to Sport.

"So I started to negotiate with Liverpool and also started training, although with my head more outside than inside. In the middle of everything appeared Barcelona and my head began to imagine things, that I might go to one of the best clubs in the world, and in a moment at which it was at its best.

"I lived with much anxiety and nervousness. It was not easy because I had to fight a lot, but always with the conviction that I wanted to come."

The Argentine believes his decision was vindicated when a year later, he won the Champions League 2011 final against Manchester United.

He said: "I was not expecting to play [that game], honestly. I had it in my head and I was surprised a lot when Pep picked his team and I was in it. To win it meant achieving a dream that was denied to me a few years earlier with Liverpool."

"Coming here has changed me in every way. I did not even know if I could do it or not [play at centre-back] because I always had been seen as a defensive midfielder."