Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano has admitted that he wants to return to River Plate before the end of his career, but insisted that he has no set date to leave Barcelona yet.
The Argentinian side was where Mascherano began his footballing career, progressing from the Under-20s to the first team in 2003. Making 46 appearances between 2003 and 2005, Mascherano has stated his intent to return to River Plate and build on the league title he attained at the club in his debut season.
Speaking to TNT Sports, Mascherano said: "I still feel there's a chapter in my career to be dedicated to River. The problem is, speaking about River, I don't want to be a prisoner of my own words. I don't want to be saying I'll be back in December or June and then if it doesn't happen, what do I do? Was I lying?"
Amidst the modern media and transfer rumours circulating all year round, Mascherano is on the money with his words here - ultimately, once a player announces something like this they are bound to what they have said.
"But, in my head, I always have the idea that I will go back one day" said Mascherano, "I speak regularly with [River president Rodolfo] D'Onofrio but, honestly, it's been a year since we spoke about going back. But we'll keep in touch because we have a good relationship."
Mascherano's doubts have lied in his lack of playing time, however, the 33-year-old has emerged as a key component in Ernesto Valverde's side this season. Starting four of the last six La Liga matches, Mascherano's experience has proved to be vital at the back.
"It has nothing to do [with money] like I've read" he added. "I made my own decisions when I was in my 20s but now they're made on a family level. I have kids and they also have to be considered. It's not an excuse, but I have my reasons. Right now, I have no idea what I am going to do. I have no idea what I'm going to do in January."
With Mascherano's contract set to expire in June 2019, it's unlikely that the Argentine will depart Barcelona just yet. However, this statement shows that his heart still lies in Belgrano and that a return is certainly on the cards.