La Liga News 

Mascherano eyes River Plate return as Barcelona eye replacement

Javier Mascherano is keen on a return to Argentine side River Plate amidst talks he could leave the Camp Nou.

The Argentina international has been playing in Europe now for over a decade, having had spells with West Ham United, Liverpool and current side Barcelona.

A mainstay in the Catalan side over recent years, Mascherano adapted his game from midfield to the heart of defence, where he quickly formed a formidable partnership with Gerard Pique.

However, Samuel Umtiti’s arrival in Barcelona and Mascherano’s age has seen a change with the Frenchman having played nine of their first 11 league games.

Speaking on his future, Mascherano said he would ideally like to return to his boy-hood club River Plate, where he left in 2005 for Corinthians.

“I believe I need to give a chapter of my career to River Plate,” Mascherano told TNT Sports.

“My problem is this is not guaranteed and I could be a prisoner of my own words, if the move does not happen I may be accused of lying.

“But the truth is that this is what I have thought about, but I have a good relationship with the club’s president Rodolfo D’Onofrio and we speak regularly.

“My future has nothing to do with money, I used to make my own decisions but now they’re done by my family, I cannot forget my kids and their situation.

“What will I be doing in January or summer? I have no idea.”

Mascherano’s contract does not expire until June 2019 but it is expected he will depart the club next summer.

The likes of Juventus, a number of Major League Soccer sides and former club Liverpool have been interested.

Meanwhile, Barcelona have been eyeing replacements for the veteran defender and have paid close attention to Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta, who has long been admired by the club and new boss Ernesto Valverde.

Robert Fernandez was closely watching the Spanish international at Stamford Bridge last Sunday.

The defender played an important part in Chelsea’s 1-0 victory and there is no doubt Fernandez will return to the Camp Nou with a glowing report.

Colombian defender Yerry Mina is also on the club’s shortlist with some reports claiming a deal is already complete.

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