Javier Mascherano has ended speculation over a possible transfer, by signing a new deal at Barcelona.
The Argentine had been a target for Napoli and was also linked with a return to the Premier League, but he has now quashed all rumours by putting pen-to-paper on an extension to his existing contract which will keep him at the Nou Camp until 2018.
Mascherano, who turns 30 today, is one of Luis Enrique’s first pieces of business as new manager, and on Wednesday scored his first international goal for seven years in a World Cup warm-up win over Trinidad and Tobago.
Since joining the Catalan giants in August 2010, he has made a total of 184 appearances in all competitions and won a clean sweep of trophies during one of the club’s most successful periods.
The defensive midfielder made 27 league appearances in his first season with Barcelona and 10 in the UEFA Champions League including the final, as his new side won the double.
He spent the majority of his second season playing as a centre-half – a role which he has now become accustomed to. The Supercopa de Espana and UEFA Super Cup titles followed at the beginning of 2011/12, before he won his first FIFA Club World Cup in December of that year.
Despite losing to Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Champions League and surrendering the La Liga crown to Real Madrid, Mascherano still managed to win the Copa Del Ray in what was his 52nd appearance of the campaign and Pep Guardiola’s final game in charge.
Under the late Tito Vilanova, Mascherano added a second league title in 2012/13 before another Supercopa de Espana arrived last campaign with Gerardo Martino at the helm.
With Argentina he has won 97 caps and will be hoping to reach the ton as he enters his third World Cup in Brazil this summer. After captaining the side in 2010 and reaching two quarter-finals, he will be hoping to pull the strings from midfield and drive his side for a better run this time around.
He has already won two Olympic gold medals – becoming only the second Argentine to do so – as well as twice reaching the final of the Copa America.
In his native country he won the 2003/04 Argentine Primera Division Clausura with River Plate, before adding the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A the following year.
After a less-than-successful five-month spell with English Premier League side West Ham United, he joined Liverpool and reached the final of the UEFA Champions League in his first half-season before going on to make a total of 139 appearances for the Reds.
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