Juventus target Javier Mascherano: 'Very difficult' to leave Barcelona
Barcelona star and Juventus target Javier Mascherano says the Catalan club want him to stay and he does not want to force his exit from the Camp Nou.
Mascherano, 32, is under contract at the Camp Nou until 2018 and has an €100 million release clause, but reports emerged recently claiming that advanced talks had taken place with Juventus about a transfer this summer.
In late May, Mascherano spoke of these reports as just a "rumour," while saying he was currently "weighing things up" and had to make a decision about his long-term future.
Speaking to Ole from Argentina's Copa America Centenario camp, the former West Ham and Liverpool player said that hearing Barca wanted him to stay had been welcome, but he stopped short of committing his future to them 100 percent.
"Barca have let me know that they have no intention of me leaving," Mascherano said. "They are very happy with me. And when the club -- and even more this club -- tells you this, it is very difficult to leave. Above all, knowing I am not going to force anything. Nobody involved deserves that. There is always the possibility of leaving, but also of staying."
Blaugrana sporting director Robert Fernandez last week said he had "no doubt" that Mascherano would remain at Barca, and the 2010 signing says that while he had not always been fully happy at the club he did not want his time there to end on a bad note.
"I've a contract with Barcelona," Mascherano said. "Just as the sporting director said -- we have talked since January, not just about professional things, but also personal issues. I have a good relationship with everyone, even at the top of the club. They know what I think.
"They have treated me very well, I have no complaints. Although sometimes things happen that make you rethink the situation... But I will do nothing to muddy my relationship with Barcelona. They have always been very good and the day I leave the club I do not want to go with a bad taste in the mouth."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan