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Mascherano to play final Barcelona games against Espanyol

Mascherano to play final Barcelona games against Espanyol

Javier Mascherano will play his final games in a Barcelona shirt in the two-legged Copa del Rey tie with Espanyol on Wednesday and Thursday, next week.

The Argentine defender is said to be leaving the Catalan club in January after dropping to the bench this season and will reportedly link up with his new team-mates in Marbella following next Thursday’s Copa clash with Espanyol.

Excellent form from French defender Samuel Umtiti has seen Mascherano’s place alongside Gerard Pique diminish and with his contract due to expiry next summer; the former Liverpool man chose to look for first team football and has sealed a lucrative deal to China.

The 33-year-old has recently discussed his wishes to play an important part in Argentina’s World Cup squad next summer in Russia and will receive more playing time at his new club.

Mundo Deportivo report that the Chinese club have offered a deal in the region of €7m annually in wages, which is more than Barcelona pay the defender at present.

Hebei China Fortune, who are bossed by former Real Madrid and Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini – have a squad full of former European players with Stephane Mbia, Gervinho and Ezequiel Lavezzi all featuring.

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For Barca, following on from Umtiti’s injury, former Arsenal man Thomas Vermaelen has been playing alongside Pique, whilst new January signing, Yerry Mina, is available for boss Ernesto Valverde.