Javier Mascherano has reached an agreement, in principle, to join Serie A champions Juventus.
Mascherano has been a key player for Barcelona since arriving at the Camp Nou from Liverpool in 2010, and remains one of the Catalan giants’ most consistent performers, but it seems the Argentina international may have played his final match for the club.
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Mundo Deportivo reported earlier on Wednesday that the futures of both Mascherano and Dani Alves were unclear.
The former, who turns 32 next month, is acutely aware that Barcelona are seeking a new centre-back this summer and is concerned that a new arrival could leave him out of Luis Enrique’s starting line-up.
Secondly, Mascherano was sentenced to one year in prison for tax fraud back in January after he failed to pay nearly €1.5 million in taxes - per the Guardian - for 2011 and 2012.
While the jail sentence is expected to be replaced by a fine - or dismissed altogether - it’s understandably a concern for the South American.
Leaving Spain for Italy would, in the words of Mundo Deportivo, make the threat of prison “disappear”.
Mascherano agrees three-year deal with Juve
Mascherano has reportedly agreed a three-year deal with Juventus and is set to increase his salary by leaving Barcelona for the Old Lady.
However, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that this news has broken to put pressure on Barca to hand Mascherano an improved contract.
The versatile defender’s current deal expires in 2018 and, given his age, this summer might be his final opportunity to negotiate one last big pay packet.
That Paris Saint-Germain have blocked Marquinhos leaving the Parc des Princes - per the Mirror - could tempt Barcelona to bow to Mascherano’s demands.
Should Barcelona be doing everything to keep Javier Mascherano? Have your say by leaving a comment below.