world soccer 13.10.2017 02:40 am

Mascherano to quit Argentina after World Cup

Argentina's midfielder Javier Mascherano is seen during national anthems ceremony before the 2018 FIFA World Cup South American qualifier football match against Paraguay at Mario Kempes stadium in Cordoba on October 11, 2016

Argentina's midfielder Javier Mascherano is seen during national anthems ceremony before the 2018 FIFA World Cup South American qualifier football match against Paraguay at Mario Kempes stadium in Cordoba on October 11, 2016

Veteran Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano said Thursday he will step down from international duty after the 2018 World Cup.

The versatile Barcelona star, who turns 34 next June, is Argentina’s second most-capped player with 139 appearances for his country and played in the 2014 World Cup final defeat to Germany.

He is also a four-time runner-up in the Copa America — finishing on the losing side in 2004, 2007, 2015 and 2016.

“My time in the national team finishes in Russia, I won’t go any further,” Mascherano told Argentine TV station TyC Sports. “(Coach Jorge) Sampaoli will decide if I should be selected for the World Cup or not.”

Mascherano started Tuesday’s 3-1 South American qualifying victory in Ecuador that guaranteed Argentina a place at next year’s finals in Russia.

He is four caps short of equalling Inter Milan legend Javier Zanetti’s Argentina record.

Mascherano joined Barcelona from Liverpool in 2010 and is under contract at the Camp Nou until 2019.

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