Barcelona target Mascherano: I'm staying at Liverpool for Benitez
"But I have always been a professional and have never left a club high and dry, and I was not going to do that this time with Liverpool.
"I will always value the fact Benitez took a chance on me when neither Carlos Tevez nor I were being given chances at West Ham.
"Benitez is someone who is very serious and clear. He spoke with me and told me I was a key player, and that I could not abandon the club just for financial reasons."
Mascherano, who played in Argentina's 3-2 win in Russia in midweek, admits his head was turned by Barca's advances.
"Last year we were so close to being champions and we'll be back in the title fight again."