Javier Mascherano claims he would not swap places with Lionel Messi

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Barcelona star Javier Mascherano insists he would not swap places with Lionel Messi because of the immense pressure his teammate faces on a weekly basis.

Having played alongside Messi for both club and country, Mascherano appreciates just how much pressure to perform the four-time Ballon d'Or winner is under each time he takes to the pitch.

And speaking to Canal+ - according to Spanish newspaper Marca - Mascherano confessed he would not trade places with the world's best player, and arguably the greatest footballer of all time, because of this reason.

"I wouldn't trade places with him," Mascherano said. "It's very difficult to cope with the responsibility of showing you're the best in the world every three days.

"When the ball gets to Leo, our moves flow and our play becomes more attractive."

Mascherano would love to have Messi's talent

While Mascherano is undoubtedly a talented footballer in his own right, he may not have scaled the lofty heights he has without his immense dedication and commitment to his profession.

But the tenacious holding midfielder, who is equally as effective in central defence, admits he would give up his magnificent work ethic in order to possess the extraordinary ability of Messi, Andres Iniesta or Xavi.

"I would give up my ability to work hard and my dedication to have the talent of Messi, Iniesta or Xavi," the South American added. "I love to watch them and enjoy playing with them."

Mascherano is an underrated star

The world, however, needs grafters like Mascherano - and that's not to say he lacks technical ability or football talent in any sense.

England manager Roy Hodgson even selected the Argentina international as his player of 2014, nominating the 30-year-old ahead of both Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the Ballon d'Or.

He was arguably the best player at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil, but fell short of lifting football's most coveted trophy after losing to Germany in the final.

Less than a year later and he - alongside the likes of Messi, Iniesta and Xavi - is on course to win an historic treble with Barcelona.

The Catalan giants have already secured the Spanish league title and can make it a double by beating Athletic Bilbao in the Copa de Rey final this weekend.

Then, on June 6, Barcelona face Juventus in the big one: the Champions League final at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

Barcelona fans: is Javier Mascherano underrated? Have your say in the comments below!

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