Javier Mascherano has stated his ambition of making the World Cup squad with Argentina after making the switch to China Hebei Fortune from Barcelona earlier in January. The Argentine secured his move to the Far East after eight-and-a-half seasons with Barcelona, where he managed 333 appearances, most of which came in a central defensive position.
Speaking during his unveiling, Mascherano admitted his desire to represent Argentina in one final World Cup, and he is hopeful that the decision to pursue a new challenge will enhance his chances, he said: “I came here because I want to play and I want to play were I have always preferred, in the centre of the midfield. If I go to the World Cup or not will depend at what level I’m playing at. Sampaoli watches the games here and both Renato Augusto and Paulinho have been selected for Brazil since playing in China.”
Mascherano had been more of a central midfielder during his time in the Premier League with both West Ham United and Liverpool, but his move to Camp Nou saw him slotted into a central defensive position. In a recent interview, he admitted that he was not always in favour of the move from then-boss Pep Guardiola, but he decided to adjust as the Blaugrana were continuously keeping on winning silverware.
The Argentine found himself playing second fiddle to Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique during the first half of the campaign, and the recent emergence of Thomas Vermaelen from the blue meant that he was unlikely to be preferred in the starting lineup. Mascherano witnessed his nation lose out to Germany in the final of the 2014 World Cup, and the 33-year-old will be hoping to be involved once more this summer as the Albiceleste seek to go one better under Jorge Sampaoli in Russia.