Barca, Mascherano agree to extension to 2016

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Barcelona and Javier Mascherano have agreed to a contract extension that will keep the former Argentina captain at the club until 2016.

Barcelona says the deal will be signed in the coming weeks, with the buyout clause to be set at $123 million.

The 28-year-old former Liverpool and Corinthians player joined the Spanish league club in 2010. After a rocky start, when he had trouble adapting to the Catalans' style of play, Mascherano settled in to become a regular in both midfield and defense. He filled in at centerback for most of last season due to injuries.

Lionel Messi says Mascherano "has become a fundamental player for us. Since (former coach Pep) Guardiola turned him into a centerback he hasn't had one poor game."