Abidal announces Barcelona exit

The Frenchman will bid farewell to the Primera Division champions this summer as his expiring contract will not be renewed
Eric Abidal has announced that he will leave Barcelona this summer after a six-year spell at Camp Nou.

The 33-year-old joined the club from Olympique Lyonnais in the summer of 2007 and had since made nearly 200 official appearances for the Blaugrana, winning four Liga titles and two Champions Leagues in the process.

However, health problems largely kept Abidal out of action in the past two seasons as he was diagnosed with a tumour in his liver in March 2011 and underwent a transplant last year.

"This is a difficult day for me. I have spent six years at Barcelona and it has been a very intense period together with my team-mates," Abidal said at a press conference.

"I was keen to continue at Barcelona, but the club have different plans and I have to respect that. I am leaving the club this summer, but I will be back here."

Club president Sandro Rosell, meanwhile, stressed that he hopes Abidal will return to Barcelona once he hangs up his boots.

"Abidal has been at Barcelona for six years and he's part of our history. This is not a goodbye. The doors will always be open for Eric.

"When Eric retires, he will become the director of Barcelona's schools around the world."

Abidal has been linked with a return to Lyon this summer, while Monaco have also shown an interest in signing the left-back, but he has yet to make a final decision on where he will continue his career.

"I have a number of offers, but I need more time to think about them," the Frenchman stated.