Clubs: CA River Plate, SC Corinthians Paulista, West Ham United FC, Liverpool FC, FC Barcelona
• Rose through ranks at River Plate yet made his international debut for Argentina − in a friendly against Uruguay (2-2) on 16 July 2003 − before he had appeared for the first team.
• Impressed over two seasons in midfield for the Buenos Aires club, winning the Clausura title at the end of his first in 2003/04, before joining Corinthians midway through the 2005 campaign; suffered a foot injury early on which ruled him out for six months.
• Returned in early March and was ever-present a few months later in Argentina's run to the 2006 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals, after which he signed for West Ham in a surprise deal with international team-mate Carlos Tévez.
• Moved to Liverpool in January 2007 and stayed at Anfield for three-and-a-half seasons, forming an effective defensive midfield partnership with Xabi Alonso; won no silverware but started the 2007 UEFA Champions League final defeat by AC Milan in Athens.
• An Olympic gold medalist in 2004 and 2008, he captained Argentina at the 2010 World Cup; joined Barcelona for a reported €22m in August 2010 as a replacement for Yaya Touré.
• Made 18 starts as Barcelona won the Liga title, and 11 appearances in the UEFA Champions League − including one at centre-back in the final against Manchester United FC − during the Azulgrana's fourth European triumph.
UEFA Champions League: winner 2011, runner-up 2007
UEFA Super Cup: winner 2011
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