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Former Barcelona & Argentina star Mascherano set for Estudiantes move

21:45 GMT+3 23/11/2019
Javier Mascherano Barcelona
The veteran midfielder teams up once again with former international colleagues Seba Veron and Gabi Milito in La Plata

Former Argentina captain Javier Mascherano is set to return to the Primera Division after 14 years away with a move to Estudiantes de la Plata. 

Mascherano, 35, left Barcelona at the end of the 2017-18 season to take up an offer in the Chinese Super League with Hebei China Fortune. 

That same summer saw the player retire from international football following elimination from the 2018 World Cup at the hands of France, having amassed a national record 147 caps. 

Now he is gearing up for a new challenge, after agreeing terms with Estudiantes president and former Seleccion colleague Juan Sebastian Veron to join the La Plata club in time for the start of 2020. 

"We have travelled 19,000km to welcome Javier to the Pincha family," the club wrote on its official Twitter account on Saturday, accompanied by a video of Veron and Mascherano dining together in China

"Estudiantes is your home, Mascherano."

A grinning Veron added in the clip: "We have come all the way to Beijing to see a great friend and a great footballer, Javier. 

"Now we are going to have dinner, a big hug to everyone in La Plata."

A native of San Lorenzo in Santa Fe province, Mascherano was spotted as a youngster by River Plate and moved to Buenos Aires to form part of their academy, although, curiously, the midfielder made his full debut for the Argentina national team before his club bow, in July 2003. 

After leaving River in 2005, 'El Jefecito' went on to enjoy an illustrious, globe-trotting career, winning titles in Brazil with Corinthians and helping to avoid relegation from the Premier League during his short spell at West Ham United

It was at Liverpool and Barca, however, that Mascherano would gain most recognition, winning with the latter 19 major titles including two Champions League successes.

He will now find himself in familiar company at his new club, with coach Gabriel Milito and veteran goalkeeper Mariano Andujar joining Veron as former international team-mates of the tenacious midfield general.