Argentina ace Javier Mascherano has confirmed he will retire from international football following the conclusion of next summer’s World Cup in Russia.
La Albiceleste had looked in danger of missing out on the finals for the first time since 1970, but they secured their place at the showpiece event thanks to a 3-1 victory in Ecuador during their final qualifying match.
Mascherano played the full 90 minutes of that match in Quito and he has now confirmed he will bring his international career to an end following the conclusion of next summer’s finals.
“My cycle in the national team finishes in Russia,” the 33-year-old told TyC Sports.
“I have been clear that it will be my final point.”
The versatile Barcelona player is just four caps short of Argentina’s all-time record appearance maker, Javier Zanetti, after representing his country for the 139th time against Ecuador, but he insists that does not guarantee him a place in Jorge Sampaoli’s squad for the finals.
“The decisions are taken by the coach and he will decide if I am in Russia or not,” Mascherano added.
“I will try in these six or seven months to prepare to be able to be. Sampaoli will decide. I have a lot of respect for the decision that coaches make.”
Argentina reached the final of the 2014 World Cup and they are priced at 9.50 to go one better and win the tournament for the third time next summer.