Javier Mascherano admits he will consider his future at Barcelona in the summer after having seen his playing time restricted during the opening part of the season.
The Argentina international has been a key player for the La Liga giants since arriving to the Nou Camp from Liverpool in the summer of 2010. The 33-year-old versatile defender has helped Barcelona win two Champions League and four La Liga titles, while playing a key role in the dressing room.
However, Mascherano's importance at the Catalan team has been reduced since the arrival of Samuel Umtiti from Lyon during the summer of 2016.
But Mascherano himself has suggested that he could leave the Catalan side next year after having started only five game since the arrival of Ernesto Valverde.
"I still have a contract at the club but it is clear that maybe, once the season is over, I will see what I can do. But I have not yet spoken to anyone yet. From Barcelona they have always told me that they are happy with me. There will be time to think [about a potential summer move]," Mascherano admitted as quoted by Sport.
"It's clear that I'm playing less for my club because we have two centre-backs who are among the bests. I am trying to battle to win my place and especially to be ready when I am called on. When you have a better player ahead of you in the pecking order, you accept it and try to turn the situation around. I'm not the kind of person to get annoyed about it and even less with the managers."
Mascherano's situation is unlikely to change ahead of next season as Barcelona are expected to bolster his position either in January or in the summer with the arrival of Yerry Mina. The La Liga giants have a first refusal to sign the Colombian international for €9m (£8m, $10.6m) but it is still uncertain whether they will activate that option in the middle or end of the season.
One way or another, the arrival of 23-year-old centre-back would arguably leave Mascherano as the fourth-choice option for Valverde as the manager also has Umtiti and Gerard Pique to cover the role. Mascherano still hopes to be included by Argentina's squad for the World Cup in 2018 but plans to retire from international football following the tournament in Russia.
"I am fully committed to the national team. The decisions are taken by the coach and he will decide if I am in Russia or not. But is already clear that my cycle in the national team finishes in Russia," Mascherano added. "I will try in these six or seven months to prepare to be able to be in the World Cup. But the manager will decide I have a lot of respect for the decision that coaches make."