Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano has admitted this season may be his last at the Camp Nou.
The 33-year-old has enjoyed a tremendous time with Barca since joining from Liverpool in 2010 and was one of the best centre-backs in the world at his absolute best. However, speaking to TyC Sports (h/t Martin Domin of the Daily Mirror), he hinted his time may be coming to an end in Catalonia.
“I have my contract to honour with the club but obviously, once the season is over we’ll see what needs to be done—I haven’t spoken to anyone about it yet,” he said. “At Barcelona, they’ve always said that they’re happy with me and I have time to think about it.”
Per Sky Sports, the player agreed a three-year contract in 2016 with Barcelona, meaning he has more than a season to run. As noted by OptaJose, the Argentina star has been a stalwart for the club:
Samuel Umtiti arrived from Lyon in 2016 and has been impressive in partnership with Gerard Pique at the heart of the Barcelona defence. Mascherano has been utilised as a rotational option as a result, starting four of the team’s seven La Liga games.
And the veteran had no issue admitting that at the moment both Pique and Umtiti deserve to be ahead of him in the pecking order.
“It’s clear that I’m playing less for my club because we have two centre-backs who are better,” he said. “I am trying to battle to win my place—or at least be ready when I am called on.”
It appears Mascherano still believes he can do a job at club level. Indeed, as relayed by Bleacher Report UK, he’s set to walk away from the national team setup after next summer’s FIFA World Cup, having enjoyed a stellar spell with Argentina:
Javier Mascherano says he will retire after the 2018 World Cup. He is the second-most capped player in Argentina’s history.
With his international commitments over, perhaps Barcelona will see the benefit of keeping him around for the duration of his contract. While he may not be the force he once was, Mascherano is experienced, intelligent and versatile in where he can be utilised; finding another player who can offer those traits would be tough.
Much will rest on the player’s intentions, too, as Mascherano appears keen to continue playing frequently. If he can’t be guaranteed that at the Camp Nou, he may well embark on a new challenge in the twilight of his career.