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.
After scoring five goals against Newcastle United, Sergio Aguero may have to wait a bit of time to get back to scoring in the Premier League.
The Manchester City striker lasted just 25 minutes in Argentina’s World Cup qualifier on Thursday, as he was stretchered off with a hamstring injury.
Aguero underwent testing in Argentina, and told the local media “I think I’m going to be out for a month.”
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Manchester City and Argentina teammate Nicolas Otamendi said Aguero was in tears in the dressing room, and some reports have penned the injury as a torn hamstring.
If Aguero were to be ruled out for a month, he would miss City’s Champions League clash vs. Sevilla, as well as the massive Manchester derby away at United on October 25.
To make matters worse for City supporters, David Silva was forced off after just ten minutes while playing for Spain today. Silva took a harsh challenge from behind, and hobbled off with what looked to be an ankle injury. If Silva’s injury ends up being more than just a knock, City could be without their two most important players in the attack.
Mario Gotze could be out of action until 2016 after picking up a groin injury on international duty.
The Bayern Munich midfielder suffered a tendon tear in his abductor muscle while stretching for a ball in Germany’s 1-0 loss to Ireland in EURO qualifiers on Thursday. He was taken off in the 35th minute.
Ruled out for 10-12 weeks, Gotze is likely to miss the rest of the first half of the season for Bayern. Their last league match of 2015 is on December 19, which is 11 weeks away. The Bundesliga then goes on winter break, with Bayern’s next match not until January 23.
[ RELATED: Sam Allardyce appointed Sunderland boss ]
Gotze will miss both of Bayern’s upcoming Champions League matches against Arsenal, which is good news for the Gunners as they are in desperate need of a result.
However, Arjen Robben is back in training and will make his return to action within the coming weeks. After starting the Bundesliga seasons with eight wins out of eight, Robben’s return would add just another weapon to Pep Guardiola’s dominant attack.
Robben has not played since being injured in early September while playing for the Netherlands, and could feature for Bayern against Werder Bremen next week.