Ex-Liverpool man told he has character to be Barcelona captain - No move?

Javier Mascherano Argentina

As rumours circulate that Javier Mascherano could leave the Camp Nou, new Barcelona boss Luis Enrique has said the ex-Liverpool man is captain material.

A new era has begun at Barcelona as former midfielder Luis Enrique was named the club’s next manager earlier this week.

Gerardo Martino took the decision to leave the Blaugrana after a single trophyless campaign at the helm, Enrique leaving his post at Celta Vigo to take over for the 51-year-old.

The disappointing season - Barcelona’s first without silverware since 2007-08 - has the Catalan outfit set for a squad overhaul this summer to restore the glories of the recent past.

Cesc Fabregas has been widely tipped for an exit amongst others, with Javier Mascherano’s future also a topic of widespread speculation.

Mascherano transitioned from tough-tackling defensive midfielder to centre-back at Camp Nou and is thought to be seeking a move to revert to his natural position.

The Argentine has been heavily linked with a reunion with former boss Rafael Benitez at Napoli for months, whilst some reports have suggested he could make a sensational return to Liverpool.

But the hiring of Enrique seems to have put Mascherano’s plans on ice, Tuttosport claiming that the Spanish tactician wants to retain his services - as a centre-back, at that.

And on Wednesday, Enrique himself went so far as to say the 29-year-old has the credentials to replace retiring Barcelona captain Carles Puyol.

“Mascherano is an example of someone with the necessary character to be the captain,” he told a press conference.

“Good and important players will stay at the club.”

Of course, it would be a shock to see Mascherano handed the armband ahead of talismanic homegrown players such as Xavi and Andres Iniesta.

Enrique’s statement may simply be posturing designed to send a message to the Argentine that he’s a crucial member of the squad.

At any rate, it seems Enrique is prepared to fight to keep Mascherano at Barcelona - whether he would ultimately use the grand gesture of naming him captain to succeed remains to be seen.

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