Argentine star Mascherano signs Chinese club after leaving Barca

Updated 2018-01-25 09:54:01

Chinese Super League club Hebei China Fortune has signed Argentine midfielder Javier Mascherano to a multi-year contract worth 5.5 million euros (.7 million), the club announced on Wednesday.

Mascherano, who just ended a seven-year stint with Spanish league giant Barcelona, will join his former national teammate Ezequiel Lavezzi, a veteran striker acquired by China Fortune last February, on a competitive squad led by Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini.

"The arrival of Mascherano will significantly enhance our roster defensively, and we expect greater chemistry to be built between him and Lavezzi to give the team a competitive edge," the club said in a statement on its website.

"Hopefully, the combination of the Argentine duo with a strong local lineup will help the team stay ahead of competitors in the new season."

The 33-year-old defensive midfielder will join China Fortune at the club's preseason training camp in Marbella in southern Spain after a bidding an official farewell to Catalan fans at Barcelona's Copa del Rey quarterfinal match against Espanyol on Thursday.

Mascherano launched his professional career at River Plate in 2003 and shot to fame during a 2007-10 stint with Liverpool in the English Premier League, where his versatility and hard-tackling style earned rave reviews.

The former Argentine national team captain won four La Liga championships with Barcelona, to go along with two UEFA Champions League titles and two FIFA Club World Cup titles.

Mascherano has made over 130 international appearances for the Argentina national team since his debut in 2003 and has represented the nation at five Copa América tournaments, finishing runner-up in 2004, 2007, 2015, and 2016.

He has also played in three World Cup tournaments, reaching the 2014 final, and twice won a gold medal at the Summer Olympics, in 2004 and 2008.

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