Barcelona have some big decisions to make over the summer period, one of which concerns Javier Mascherano.
The immaculate defensive midfielder-cum-centre-back isn't getting any younger, and despite still being the best option to partner Gerard Pique of the current crop, the Catalans need to start looking to the future.
It won't be a popular decision to replace him, but it would be the right one if—and only if—his replacement is of sufficient quality.
There's little point in Barca moving the Argentinian on if there's only a like-for-like replacement to come on board.
Although world-class central defenders are hard to come by, there are a handful available if the club are willing to put their hands in their pockets.
Barca wouldn't think twice at doing so for an attack-minded player. It's about time they did so for the area that has needed it most over the last few years.
Mascherano has been a fine servant for the club and is playing some of the best football of his career, but he will be 32 before the beginning of next season. Old Father Time waits for no man, and it appears the player himself wants out in any event.
A report in El Confidencial (via Ed Malyon of the Daily Mirror) suggested the player is none too happy with Barca's hierarchy after its lack of backing in the recent court case over Mascherano's tax issues.
The Argentine midfielder, who more commonly plays in defence at club level, feels he has not had the backing of Barcelona throughout his run-in with Spanish tax authorities.
While that saga ended in a significant fine and a year's jail sentence, suspended after a plea bargain, Mascherano reportedly holds some resentment towards the club who he felt didn't back him in his hour of need.
Barca might have to consider lowering his £79 million (€100 million) buyout clause to tempt buyers while retaining a realistic stance on a deal for a player with two years still to run on his contract.
Recouping around something approaching half that amount, perhaps slightly less, would allow his employers a significant down payment on any replacement.
A start point of £50 million-plus for a player such as Athletic Bilbao's Aymeric Laporte is just about the minimum going rate in the position.
There will be no shortage of takers for Mascherano at the right price despite the player's lack of aerial ability, because in all other aspects, he has shown himself to be competent and fit for purpose.
To that end, it would seem a shame for the Blaugrana to consider selling him. But he won't go on forever, and no one likes to see a boxer-who-wants-just-one-more-round scenario.
He is better than his younger contemporaries in a number of areas, but they have the time to grow and are yet to reach anywhere near their peak.
The Argentinian has peaked already and will gradually lose his influence on the games in which he partakes. That does neither the player nor the club any favours whatsoever.
His partnership with Pique has steadied the Barca ship on more than one occasion, and if Mascherano were to be sold this summer, the elegant Catalan has a busy pre-season ahead of him as he looks to build up a rapport with any new incumbent.
If Barcelona want to keep themselves at the forefront of world football and continue to dominate in the way they have over the last few years, then some difficult decisions need to be made and then sanctioned.
Winning the popularity stakes shouldn't be placed above winning titles.