Javier Mascherano: My time at Barcelona 'is close to its end'
Javier Mascherano says he knows when he will leave Barcelona amid reports he could move to China in January, the 33-year-old told El Grafico.
Mascherano, 33, told ESPN last week that his time at Camp Nou was nearing its conclusion and Catalunya Radio reported over the weekend that he’s already informed the club that he does not plan to stay beyond the end of the current season, despite having a contract until 2019.
Mundo Deportivo have even suggested, with the World Cup next summer, he would be open to leaving in January in order to play regular football before Russia.
“My Barca era is still not over, but it’s getting closer,” Mascherano said. “I’m clear about that.
“I believe that all eras have to come to an end in life and mine at Barca is close to its end — I think I know when, but I’m not going to say!”
However, an injury to teammate Samuel Umtiti, who will be out for the next two months with a torn hamstring, may force Mascherano to change his short-term plans, if he was thinking of heading to China in the winter.
Mascherano is currently sidelined with an injury, too, but should return in the coming weeks with Barca hopeful he will be back for the Clasico against Real Madrid on Dec. 23.
Once back, he will be needed in the middle of the back four, where Ernesto Valverde only has Gerard Pique and Thomas Vermaelen available.
Barca have tough away games against Villarreal and Madrid before the end of the year and could have as many as eight games in January if they continue to progress in the Copa del Rey.
Valverde said on Monday that Mascherano remains committed to the club and refused to be drawn on the possibility of signing a new centre-back when the transfer window opens.
“Winter has still not arrived,” he said. “We’ve been talking about [the transfer window] since August. We’re in autumn now. When January arrives, we will talk about it. We have time to assess if we need to sign a centre-back [in January].
“When you get injuries, there’s always talk but, in principle, we’re happy with the centre-backs we have got. We will have to see.”
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.