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Mascherano: I owe Guardiola so much and want him to stay at Barcelona

The versatile Argentine midfielder credits the Blaugrana boss with turning him into a more complete player since his arrival at Camp Nou from Liverpool in 2010

Javier Mascherano is desperate for Pep Guardiola to remain at Barcelona, admitting that he feels a debt of gratitude to the coach for bringing him to Catalunya and also improving him as a player.

The Argentina international earned a reputation as one of the most effective defensive midfielders in Europe during his time at Liverpool, but he has regularly been utilised to great effect as a centre-half by the Blaugrana.

Consequently, Mascherano is hoping that Guardiola, who is out of contract in the summer, will commit his future to Barca, as the former West Ham man feels he can develop further under the 41-year-old's tutelage.

"Guardiola is very important to me," Mascherano told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.

"He is the coach who trusted me to come to Barcelona and also provided me with the necessary conditions to be able to change my position.

"Without the help of the coach, that would have been impossible. I owe it to him that I am now playing in the centre of defence."

Mascherano also backed up Xavi's claim that Barcelona's players do not want to even start bracing themselves for the possibility that Guardiola could walk away from Camp Nou when his current contract expires at the end of the season.

"No club would be prepared for that," the 27-year-old opined. "Nobody is ready [for it] because he has the support of the entire club, not only because of all the titles he has won, but the way in which he has done it.

"We hope he stays. He has earned [the right to stay] with hard work and with a group that supports his ideas."

Guardiola, who spent 11 seasons with the Blaugrana as a player, has lifted 13 trophies since taking charge of the club in the summer of 2008.

Since November, has been publishing exclusive extracts from Graham Hunter's highly-anticipated new book, 'Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World'. The very last extract, which was published last Friday, looks at Andres Iniesta's risky return from injury in the 2009 Champions League Final and how he was described by Wayne Rooney as the 'best midfielder in the world'. Don't miss it!