Rumours are rife that Javier Mascherano will be leaving Barcelona later this month. The Argentine, who has formed an integral part of the Blaugrana defence since joining from Liverpool in 2010, looks set to be heading to China.
Mascherano is reported to be heading to the Chinese Super League to play for Hebei China Fortune. The appointment should happen within the next week, once Samuel Umtiti has been declared fully fit to return.
Now that Barcelona has signed centre-back Yerry Mina early, the Argentine is free to leave earlier than expected. Mascherano had only seven starts this season as it stands. With the arrival of Mina, his chances to get in the starting XI would be even slimmer. It is likely that the match against Celta on Thursday will be his final one in a Blaugrana shirt.
In the past, the Chinese Super League has been associated with high transfer fees and salaries to get big-name players to Asia. Although some outlets have been reporting on a possible 10-million-euro transfer fee for Mascherano, that looks unlikely due to the new levy on transfer payments.
The Chinese Football Association declared last June that any loss-making club in China’s top two divisions that pays more than 45 million yuan (5.7 million euros) for a foreign player must pay the same amount to a youth development fund. So, although a projected salary of 7-million-euros per year seems likely, a transfer fee of more than 5.7 million euros is not.
Mascherano should soon head to Hebei China Fortune which is managed by Manuel Pellegrini. The former Manchester City coach has been in China since 2016 on a three-year deal.
HCF is currently fourth in the table, with hefty ambitions to win a domestic title within the next few years. The club has been reported to pursue a number of high-ranking players of late, with reports that Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez turned down a 400,000-pound-a-week offer only last month.