Liverpool's midfield star Javier Mascherano admits former Chelsea star Claude Makelele has been a major inspiration

Javier Mascherano has revealed that studying former Chelsea star Claude Makelele helped him become one of the best defensive midfielders in the game.

Liverpool star Mascherano has paid tribute to the Frenchman, who is set to retire from football this summer after a magnificent career.

And the Argentine admitted: 'I've always modeled myself on Claude Makelele, though it's hard to explain why.

Javier Mascherano

In form: Javier Mascherano in action for Liverpool against Fulham on Sunday

'It's not a question of me wanting to play like him when I watch him, but I get the feeling he feels and thinks about the game the same way as I do.

'I've played against him a few times and to be honest he seems more and more of a special player every time.

Claude Makelele

One of the very best: Claude Makelele in action for Chelsea in 2007

'There are a few others too. When I started training with the national team I watched (Matias) Almeyda and (Diego) Simeone a lot, and Leonardo Astrada taught me a great deal too.'

Mascherano has been one of the genuine bright spots for Liverpool in their disappointing season.

So impressive is his form that Argentina coach Diego Maradona has insisted his selection for the World Cup would be 'Mascherano and 10 others' after installing him as captain.

Mascherano told FIFA's website: 'I feel very proud when I get recognition, especially when it comes from coaches who've worked with me.

'That means I'm a good professional who goes through ups and downs like everyone else. It makes me blush sometimes though, especially when the praise comes from someone important.

'Obviously you work hard to improve, although I'm not going to win any personal awards because of the position I play in and the way I play. I just try to do what I do well and help the team, that's all.

'Every morning when I get up I know I've got to give my all to keep on progressing.'

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