French full-back in emotional Barca farewell.
French defender Eric Abidal has confirmed he will be leaving Barcelona this summer after six years with the club, Sky Sports reports.
The 33-year-old has spent the last two years fighting back from liver cancer, and looked ready to play again after making some appearances for the Catlan giants towards the end of the season.
However, they have decided not to renew his contract as a player for another year, though club president Sandro Rosell has welcomed the former Lyon man back in a coaching capacity when he retires.
Abidal admitted it was difficult to leave the club that he called his ‘second family’, but that he respected their decision not to keep him on.
“I would have liked to have stayed and played on at Barcelona but the club saw it differently and I have to respect their decision,” he told a press conference.
“It’s a very difficult day for me. The team is my second family. We have gone through a lot together and I’ll remember this forever.”
Rosell added that Abidal has won many hearts at Barcelona and will not be forgotten for his tremendous comeback from his health difficulties.
“He has won our hearts because you can never write him off,” he said. “He has had the strength to overcome all types of difficulties – he has taught us life lessons we will never forget.
“We are not saying goodbye, only ‘until we meet again’. When he wants to hang up his boots Barca will open their doors for him to come back and be technical director of the youth academy.”
Abidal won fifteen trophies during his time at the Nou Camp, and has previously been linked with moves to the Premier League with both Arsenal and Liverpool, though it is not currently clear where his next destination will be.