Terrassa (Barcelona), December 2: Javier Mascherano has been the pillar of Barcelona’s defence before Frenchman Samuel Umtiti took that mantle from the Argentinian during their campaign in the last season.
Mascherano has admitted that his time at the Camp Nou is nearing to an end as the 33-year-old hasn’t been a regular under Ernesto Valverde.
The Argentinian has hinted that he may look to move on next season despite his current contract running out in 2019.
"My stage here is ending. It makes sense that after such a long time there's not much more I can do in this club. I'm not saying it with a heavy heart. I've had the best years of my career in this club. I'll never forget it,” he told ESPN.
"I'm one of those people that thinks that you have to know when is the right time to end a stage. I would like to close mine on the right time but it doesn't really depend on me."
The midfielder turned centre back reflected on the glittering career he had at the Catalan giants, which includes two Champions League trophies and four La Liga titles.
Mascherano, who has been sidelined for one-month due to a hamstring injury and is expected to return for the El Clasico on December 23, has played in just six of Barcelona's 13 league matches this term and has made just two appearances in the Champions League.
The former River Plate player said he has learnt from his past experience – he feels like he might have left a toxic environment behind at Liverpool -- and doesn’t want to replicate that at Barca.
The midfielder turned centre-back decided to leave Anfield when then manager Rafael Benitez departed. "It was a stormy summer for me. Rafa Benitez had left Liverpool and there was the possibility of going to Inter with him. We were negotiating but things did not go the way we wanted. I already had the idea of leaving Liverpool.
"He was the manager who had bet on me when I did not know what to do at West Ham. When he left, I believed that it would not be the same and I needed to take a step forward.
"I did not like it but it was my chance. A club like this is not going to come looking for you two years in a row. If you say no, they look for someone else. That's the reality. I fought for that and here I am."
Mascherano, who made 139 appearances in a three-year stint at the Merseyside, might return to his favourite club Liverpool, is also contemplating a move to his home club River Plate.
After 331 appearances at Barca he may now leave on a free transfer at the end of the year even though his contract runs until 2019.
And he wants it all to be done right this time.