Retired former national team captain Javier Mascherano is returning to the Albiceleste.
The defensive midfielder, 36, has agreed to take charge of the development of Argentina’s youth sides, heading up a new department, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) announced on Tuesday.
The ex-Barcelona, Liverpool and River Plate star will be officially unveiled as the AFA's National Methodology and Development Director in the "coming weeks," the governing body said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Mascherano, a runner-up with Argentina at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, will be joined by assistants Pablo Blanco and Oscar Hernández Romero, it added.
The announcement comes less than two months after the footballer ended a glittering playing career that included spells with River Plate, Corinthians, West Ham United, Liverpool, Barcelona, Hebei China Fortune and Estudiantes de la Plata.
Mascherano, nicknamed both ‘Masche’ or ‘El Jefecito', met with national team coach Lionel Scaloni and AFA chief Claudio ‘Chiqui’ Tapia to discuss the post, prior to accepting.
Capped a record 147 times for the national side, Mascherano made his Albiceleste debut at age 19, on July 16, 2003, in a 2-2 draw against Uruguay. An iconic figure who anchored the midfield for more than a decade, he won two Olympic gold medals with Argentina at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. He also came within a grasp of the World Cup title, playing in the final defeat to Germany at Brazil 2014.
During a 17-year club career, he played for Corinthians in Brazil, then for English sides West Ham United and Liverpool, before being transferred in 2010 to Barcelona, where he spent eight seasons and won 18 trophies.
After 20 months at Hebei Fortune in China, he returned to Argentine top-flight football with Estudiantes de la Plata in 2019, but was only able to manage a handful of games before the coronavirus pandemic forced an eight-month suspension. In mid-November 2019, he announced his retirement from professional football.