Barcelona centre-back Javier Mascherano is set to be on the sidelines for around four weeks after suffering a hamstring injury on international duty with Argentina. The defender is expected to miss the next seven games but should be available for the much-awaited El Clasico at Real Madrid on 23 December.
Mascherano played the full 90 minutes during Argentina's 4-2 defeat to Nigeria on Tuesday (14 November). However, it has emerged that the 33-year-old defender picked up an injury during the game after scans overseen by Barcelona doctors on Wednesday [15 November] morning revealed the blow for manager Ernesto Valverde.
"FC Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano has suffered an injury to his right hamstring," the club confirmed on Wednesday following medical tests carried out at the team's training centre in Sant Joan Despí.
"The 33-year-old Argentinian was hurt during Tuesday night's international friendly against Nigeria. The match was played in Russia, the host country of next summer's World Cup. Mascherano is expected to be out for around four weeks."
The news is an ill-timed setback for Valverde ahead of a busy run of fixtures which will see Barcelona visiting Leganes on Saturday (18 November) before two crucial encounters with Juventus in the Champions League (22 November) and Valencia in La Liga (26 November).
Furthermore, Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti will be suspended for the trip to La Liga second-placed Valencia if they pick up a yellow card at the weekend against Leganes.
Valverde also has Thomas Vermaelen to cover the role but the Belgium international is yet to play a La Liga game since the opening part of the season, with his only appearance coming during the Copa del Rey victory over Murcia.
If the diagnosis is accurate, Mascherano will miss four further games before returning to action when Barcelona host Deportivo La Coruna on 17 December.
The ex-Liverpool man should therefore be fit for the first El Clasico in La Liga this season at Real.
Valverde has recovered both Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal during the international break but Sergi Roberto, Andres Gomes, and long-term injury duo Dembele and Alcantara remain on the sidelines due to varying fitness issues.
The four players are certainly going to miss the weekend trip to Madrid to face Leganes but Gomes should be back to ease Valverde's concerns soon.
Barcelona are still leading La Liga table after 11 games, four points ahead of Valencia and eight over Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.