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Javier Mascherano to leave Barcelona

Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano will leave the club after seven and a half years at the Nou Camp, the La Liga leaders said on Tuesday.

Spanish media have reported that Javier Mascherano will link up with compatriot Ezequiel Lavezzi at Chinese side Hebei China Fortune, who are coached by former Real Madrid and Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini.

“Javier Mascherano is leaving FC Barcelona after seven and a half seasons. The Argentinian will be receiving an institutional farewell from the club on Wednesday,” Barcelona said in a statement.

Javier Mascherano, 33, joined Barca from Liverpool in 2010 for a reported fee of 22 million euros (19.32 million pounds) and was immediately converted by coach Pep Guardiola from a holding midfielder into a centre back, frequently deputising for injury-plagued former captain Carles Puyol.

His departure also frees up the number 14 jersey made famous by Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

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