Barcelona confirm Philippe Coutinho's new squad number

Barcelona confirm Philippe Coutinho's new squad number

Long-serving FC Barcelona player Javier Mascherano, who said farewell to the club on Wednesday night, has revealed why he chose to quit the Catalans.

Barcelona confirmed that defender Javier Mascherano will leave the club this month, with Spanish media reporting the Argentinian is heading to Hebei China Fortune.

In a statement announcing Mascherano's departure, Barça revealed that they are to hold a farewell event for the player at 11:00 CET on Wednesday morning.

The 33-year-old has insisted that leaving Barca now was the right thing to do as he did not want to put the club in an awkward situation.

"It takes a toll to be in a place for so long", said Mascherano, who stayed nearly eight seasons with the Spanish club.

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Hebei China Fortune are managed by former Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini and already boast Mascherano's compatriot Ezequiel Lavezzi and former Inter Milan and Juventus midfielder Hernanes in their squad.

With his minutes reduced and a World Cup on the horizon, Mascherano decided earlier this season that he wanted to leave the club in January to re-find regular football.

Mascherano's move could mean that new signing Coutinho will be wearing the "number 14" jersey and the Brazilian will be hoping to be as successful as Mascherano was at Barcelona. He is expected to say goodbye to the fans before Thursday's home game against Espanyol in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey.

Only three foreign players have played more games for Barca - Lionel Messi, Phillip Cocu and Dani Alves.