Buenos Aires Times

sports WORLD CUP: ARGENTINA

Mascherano calls time on international career after painful France defeat

'It's time to say goodbye,' says veteran midfielder. Biglia follows in his footsteps, but Agüero will continue to be available.

Saturday 30 June, 2018
Javier Mascherano hugs Lionel Messi after Argentina's 4-3 loss to France at the Kazan Arena.
Javier Mascherano hugs Lionel Messi after Argentina's 4-3 loss to France at the Kazan Arena. Foto:AFP-Roman Kruchinin

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Argentina's most-capped player Javier Mascherano called time on his international career Saturday after the painful World Cup defeat to France.

"It's time to say goodbye," the 34-year-old ex-Barcelona, Liverpool and West Ham midfielder and defender said after Argentina were dumped out in a 4-3 last-16 defeat by France.

"I hope that all the lads who follow in my footsteps can achieve what they are aiming for. There are no more illusions for me," he told Argentina's TyC sports channel.

"From now on, [I'm] one more fan," he concluded.

Mascherano made his international debut in 2003 and went on to appear a record 147 times for the Albiceleste. He played 334 times for Barcelona before leaving at the end of last season for China to join Herbei China Fortune.

A little while later, fellow midfielder Lucas Biglia announced that he would also "step aside."

"We are leaving with sadness because for some, it is the end, and it is not the way we wanted. I hope that those who come [into the team] can work with tranquility and take Argentina where it deserves," he told TNT Sports.

Biglia, who plays for AC Milan, has been capped 58 games by the national team.

Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero, however, said he would continue to be available for selection.

"As long as the coach keeps picking me, I will be willing to come" to play for the national team, he confirmed.

- AFP

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