Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano is set to move to Chinese side Hebei China Fortune in January for 10 million euros ($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 exepected 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.
Atletico Madrid reported Barcelona to football’s governing body FIFA over illegal contact made to star forward Antoine Griezmann, Atletico club sources confirmed on Tuesday.
“The complaint has been presented for repeated contact between Barcelona, the player and his team,” an Atletico source told AFP.
Griezmann renewed his contract until 2022 in June and Atletico consider contact made by Barcelona not only breaks FIFA’s rules, but could also affect the integrity of La Liga.
Barcelona lead the league with Atletico their closest challengers six points behind in second.
“He is a player under a long contract and this can’t happen. Moreover, the club considers that it could affect the competition where Barca are currently top and Atletico second,” added the Atletico source.
Barca were slapped with a one-year transfer ban for the illegal recruitment of foreign minors by FIFA that was served in 2015.
Should the Catalan giants be found guilty, they could be handed another ban on registering new players.
Barcelona-based sports daily Mundo Deportivo reported on Sunday that Barca’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu had recently met with Griezmann’s family.
The Catalan giants are expected to be willing to pay the French international’s 100 million euro ($117.8 million) buyout clause at the end of the season to avoid negotiating with Atletico.
Barca’s director of institutional relations Guillermo Amor turned down the opportunity to deny a meeting had taken place later on Sunday after Barca’s 4-0 thrashing of Deportivo la Coruna.
“If the paper says it then it is possible it is like that,” Amor told Movistar TV. “There could have been a coming together.”
Griezmann, 26, agreed to sign a new contract with Atletico in June after the club had an appeal against a transfer ban rejected.
Top scorer at Euro 2016, Griezmann said it would have been “dirty” to walk out on the club when they couldn’t replace him until January.
However, Atletico coach Diego Simeone accepted last week that Griezmann’s departure at some point in the future is inevitable.
“Of course Griezmann will be able to leave at some point, as Diego Costa, Diego Ribas and Arda Turan have gone,” Simeone told French sports daily L’Equipe.
“If a player comes to me and says, ‘coach, I have a chance of a lifetime and want to leave’, and if he’s left everything on the pitch for me like Griezmann, I’ll say, ‘no problem’.”
Griezmann has scored 90 goals in 179 games for Atletico since joining from Real Sociedad in 2014 and led Los Rojiblancos to the 2016 Champions League final, scoring twice to eliminated Barca in the quarter-finals.
However, he was also caught up in a Twitter storm on Sunday after posting a picture of himself blacked up and mimicking a Harlem Globetrotter basketball player from the 1980s.
“I recognise that it was clumsy of me. If I have offended people, I apologise,” he wrote shortly after and deleted the photo after receiving a wave of criticism.
WHAT THE PAPERS SAY
Following from Monday’s reports that Wilfried Zaha could be heading to Stamford Bridge, the Daily Mirror says that Manchester City and Arsenal are joining the hunt to snare the forward from Crystal Palace, who has a price tag of around £40million.
David Luiz’s future makes the papers for a second day in a row, with the Daily Express reporting that Arsenal are considering making a move for the 30-year-old defender. It follows reports in the Daily Mail that Real Madrid and Juventus are looking at taking on the Brazilian in the January transfer window, following reports of a fallout with manager Antonio Conte after a defeat to Roma in the Champions League in October.
Inter Milan are said to be interested in signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Manchester United, the Daily Mail reports. The Armenian has fallen out of favour at Old Trafford and the club will ask for at least £35million for the midfielder, the paper said. But the Independent reports that Borussia Dortmund are interested in bringing the 28-year-old back to his former club
Danny Ings and Harry Arter are in the sights of West Ham, claims the Daily Star. David Moyes will look to land Arter from Bournemouth for £15million and bring Ings in from Liverpool as a replacement for Andre Ayew.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had been linked to a number of top European clubs in recent months, but the Daily Mirror reports that he has signed a new contract with Borussia Dortmund keeping him at the German side until 2021.
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PLAYERS TO WATCH
Eden Hazard: Real Madrid are in “advanced negotiations” to bring the 26-year-old Chelsea playmaker to the Bernabeu, according to Diario Gol.
John Obi Mikel: The 30-year-old, who has been linked with a move back to the Premier League with Everton, has said he is happy at Chinese Super League club Tianjin Teda.