Javier Mascherano is into his eighth season with Barcelona and, with each passing year, he is mindful that the end of his career with the Blaugranas is getting closer. Speaking with ESPN, the Argentine revealed that he is prepared for this, and is clear that it cannot be the same as when he left Premier League side Liverpool.
Barça days numbered for Mascherano
"I think that my time here is ending. It makes sense after such a long time, as there's not much more I can do at this club," said the midefielder turned defender.
"I'm not saying this with a heavy heart. I've had the best years of my career at this club. I'll never forget it. I'm one of those people who thinks that you have to know when the right time is to end a stage. I would like to end mine at the right time, but that doesn't really depend on me.
"Toxic" feeling leaving Liverpool
"I am predisposed to end it on time because when I left Liverpool it wasn't good for me, and I didn't like it. I didn't like having the feeling that I could go back to Liverpool and there was still something toxic there.
"And I don't want the same thing to happen to me at Barcelona."
Mascherano explained that the summer Rafa Benitez left had been "stormy" and that there was a real possibility that he would have gone to Inter Milan with him.
"We were negotiating but things did not go the way we wanted. I already had the idea of leaving Liverpool," the Argentine said.
"He [Benitez] was the manager who had bet on me when I did not know what to do at West Ham. When he left, I believed that it wouldn't be the same and I needed to take a step forward.
"Negotiations with Inter did not progress and 15 days before the end of the transfer window Barcelona contacted me. I fought for that. It was not the best way to leave.
"I did not like it but it was my chance. A club like this is not going to come looking for you two years in a row. If you say no, they look for someone else. That's the reality. I fought for that and here I am."
Barcelona welcome Celta Vigo to the Camp Nou on Saturday as they look to maintain their gap at the top of LaLiga.
- Hebei China Fortune FC