Mascherano to leave Barca after eight years

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Barcelona have announced that long-serving veteran defender Javier Mascherano will be leaving the club as he nears a move to Hebei China Fortune.

Barcelona are holding a special institutional farewell for the Argentine on Wednesday, which will be attended by the club president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the first team squad.

Mascherano has only made seven appearances in La Liga this season with the Barcelona manager preferring Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti as a centre-back partnership.

He won 17 titles at Barcelona, including two Champions League trophies, and played a crucial role in Barcelona's period of dominance.

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He will then say goodbye to the club's supporters on the Camp Nou pitch before Thursday's Copa del Rey quarterfinal second leg against Espanyol.

Mascherano left Liverpool in August 2010 for Barça, having played a huge role in Rafa Benítez's Liverpool side of the late 00s alongside Xabi Alonso in defensive midfield.

"There was something of an in-joke at the club about the fact that "Masche", as his team-mates affectionately know him, had never scored a goal for the team, although attacking duties were never part of his game, so it should come as little surprise".

With his minutes reduced and a World Cup on the horizon, Mascherano decided earlier this season that he wanted to leave the club in January to re-find regular football.

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