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Mascherano thriving in midfield role with Hebei China Fortune

IANS  |  Manchester 

Argentine veteran Javier Mascherano is relishing his move to Hebei China Fortune after ending a seven-and-a half-year spell with FC Barcelona in January. The 33-year-old has thus far been deployed in midfield by Fortune coach Manuel Pellegrini, having been mostly used as a central defender during his time at Barcelona.

Mascherano on Tuesday said he harbours no ill-feelings toward Barcelona and insisted that the transfer was of his own volition, based on a desire to play regularly, reports Xinhua news agency.

"The change was my own decision, it did not mean that I was sad or disappointed," Mascherano said after he reported at his Argentine national camp here for two international friendly games.

"I chose to leave Barcelona because I thought I couldn't exercise the role of previous years. I didn't see any sense in not having continuity. I could have stayed a year-and-half more to complete my contract but I'm of the opinion that you should make your own decisions about moving on," he said.

"I had the possibility of going to China, a league totally different to (Spain), where I could have the opportunity to play regularly, and in the midfield, which is where I like the most, where I played from the beginning," he explained.

Argentina are training ahead of their international friendly against Italy at the Etihad Stadium on Friday. The Albiceleste will then confront Spain in Madrid next Tuesday.

Despite his preference for playing in midfield, the former Liverpool, West Ham, Corinthians and River Plate man said he is willing to play where he is needed for Argentina's national team.

"I come to bring something to the national team, and the coach [Jorge Sampaoli] has the authority to play me were he feels I can best help the team."

Mascherano said that it would be a "dream come true" to atone for Argentina's extra-time defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final by winning this year's edition of football's biggest tournament.

The Albiceleste have been drawn in the same group as Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria for the June 14-July 15 competition in Russia.

"You always dream of big things and try to imagine it (winning the World Cup), but the priority is to be in the squad, to play in another World Cup and to have the opportunity to advance in the competition," he concluded.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, March 21 2018. 15:50 IST