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Mascherano close to China move: reports

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Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano, pictured in November 2017, has made just 10 appearances in all competitions this season © AFP/File / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV

BARCELONA, Spain, Dec 19Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano is set to move to Chinese side Hebei China Fortune in January for Sh1.2bn ($11.8 million), Barcelona-based daily Sport reported on Tuesday.

Mascherano, 33, has made just 10 appearances in all competitions this season as he has fallen down the pecking order under new coach Ernesto Valverde and been sidelined by a hamstring injury.

“FC Barcelona and Hebei Fortune have reached an agreement for Javier Mascherano to move to the Chinese Super League for 10 million euros,” Sport reported.

“However, the transfer will not be completed until Samuel Umtiti (currently injured) is back on the pitch or a new central defender is signed.”

Colombian international Yerry Mina of Palmeiras and out-of-favour Manchester United defender Daley Blind are targets to relace the experienced Argentine, according to Sport.

French international Umtiti is expected to be out until the end of January with a torn hamstring suffered against Celta Vigo earlier this month.

Mascherano joined Barca from Liverpool in 2010 and has won a total of 17 trophies with the Catalan giants, including four La Liga titles, four Copas del Rey, three Spanish Super Cups, two Champions Leagues, two European Super Cups and two Club World Cups.

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