Barcelona retains depth in central defense and midfield, while Javier Mascherano gets to stay at one of the world’s most prestigious clubs. Beyond that, it’s unclear how a contract extension for the converted center back is good news for either the Catalan titans or the Argentine midfielder. Mascherano could get more time in his natural position with another club, while Barcelona could put his wages to better use.
Regardless, the 29-year-old former Liverpool anchor is set to re-up with Barça. According to early reports, Mascherano’s new deal will run through the 2017-18 season, likely making this the final big contract for his career.
Mascherano joined Barcelona in the summer of 2010 and was converted to defense by Pep Guardiola. With Carles Puyol’s injury problems, Mascherano became a fixture next to Gerard Piqué in front of Victor Valdes, making 184 all-competition appearances over the last five seasons.
With Barcelona rumored to be shopping another center back, Mascherano could find himself third choice next year. Then again, Barcelona always seems to be looking for help in the middle. Since acquiring Mascherano from Liverpool, though, the club has always fallen back to the same solution. Whether’s it’s Guardiola, Tito Vilanova, or Gerardo Martino, whomever’s in charge of Barcelona always finds a reason to go back to Mascherano in the middle.
Luis Enrique may be of the same disposition. If, however, Barcelona finally address its defensive needs, the club may have just extended somebody destined to be a squad player.
That’s life at clubs this size. Mascherano may be one of the top 10 (or so) defensive midfielders in the world, but at Barcelona, he’s a defender. He also may be on the bench, a sacrifice some players make to stay with the blaugrana.