Javier Mascherano bids farewell at Barcelona, as move to Chinese Super League looms
Midfielder to say goodbye on the pitch ahead of Espanyol tie amid talk of transfer to Hebei China Fortune
Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano will leave the club after seven and a half years at the Nou Camp, the La Liga leaders said.
The Argentinian made 334 appearances for the Catalan side, lifting 18 major honours, including two Champions League titles in 2011 and 2015 and four La Liga titles.
Spanish media have reported Mascherano will link up with compatriot Ezequiel Lavezzi at Chinese Super League side Hebei China Fortune, who are coached by former Real Madrid and Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini.
Barcelona said Mascherano “will be receiving an institutional farewell from the club on Wednesday”.
“The club president, Josep Maria Bartomeu and the first team squad will be present,” continued a statement.
“The player will say goodbye to the fans on the pitch ahead of the club’s King’s Cup tie against Espanyol on Thursday.”
Mascherano, 33, joined Barcelona from Liverpool in 2010 for a reported fee of €22 million (US$27 million) and was immediately converted by coach Pep Guardiola from a holding midfielder into a centre back, frequently deputising for injury-plagued former captain Carles Puyol.
His departure also frees up the number 14 jersey made famous by Dutch great Johan Cruyff.
Spanish media have reported new arrival Philippe Coutinho – who signed for a club record £142 million (US$199 million) earlier this month – will be given the prestigious squad number.