La Liga

Barcelona releases Eric Abidal

Defender Eric Abidal will leave Barcelona next month after six years at the club.
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Barcelona have decided to release Eric Abidal just weeks after the veteran made his comeback following a liver transplant.

EMOTIONAL NIGHT

Watch Eric Abidal's long-awaited Barcelona return since undergoing a liver transplant.
 

The former France full-back returned from a year on the sidelines last month and played a cameo role as Barca claimed the Primera Division title.

Barcelona offered every support to Abidal during his recovery from the transplant last April, having previously had surgery to remove a tumour in March 2011.

The 33-year-old defender, out of contract in June, was hopeful of signing a new deal but Barca were not forthcoming and in a press conference Thursday Abidal announced he would leaving.

"It's a very difficult day for me," he said via Barcelona's official Twitter account. I have played for Barca for six years and it's been the biggest experience of my life.

"I understand and respect the decision of the club. I'm going, but I'll be sure to return. I want to thank all the fans of the club who have supported me and have been looking after me. The team is my second family. We have gone through a lot together and I'll remember this forever."

Abidal is determined to continue his playing career, adding: "My idea is to keep playing and I have not changed my mind, health permitting."

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Abidal joined Barcelona in the summer of 2007 as a replacement for Dutch left-back Giovanni van Bronckhorst, having helped Lyon win three consecutive Ligue 1 titles. His career at the Nou Camp has been littered with trophies, which includes four domestic league successes, three Copa del Rey triumphs and two Champions League winners' medals.

However, his health problems have seen him play an increasingly limited role in the last two years although his resilience in spite of these setbacks has won the hearts of football fans all over the world.

While Barcelona were unable to give him a new playing deal, club president Sandro Rosell has offered Abidal a technical director role.

"Abidal has won our heart and has demonstrated such important things about life," he said."The doors are open for Abidal to be the technical director of all of our football academies. Abidal has the ideal profile to be the director of all of our football academies."

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