Abidal puts Barcelona contract talks on hold as health takes priority

It is now just under six months since Barcelona revealed that French defender Eric Abidal had been booked into the City Hospital to undergo surgery for a tumour that had been discovered on his liver.

The news came as shock to both player and club but they wasted no time in acting upon the information, and surgery to remove the tumour was swiftly arranged. The operation was a success and after a very quick rehabilitation period, the France international recovered and returned to play before the end of the season.

His return came in the final stages of Barca’s 1-1 Champions League semi-final match against Real Madrid when he was greeted by a standing ovation. He then went on to wear the captain’s armband and lift the Champions League trophy, at the request of his teammates, in what were emotional scenes at Wembley stadium after the 3-1 victory against Manchester United in the final.

Despite the bond with the Catalans, the fans and his fellow players, 31-year-old Abidal still has not signed a new contract that has been offered to him by the club. His current deal runs until the end of the season, but his reasons for stalling are not about money or the length and terms of the contract. Interestingly, they are more about his desire to ensure he is fully healthy before committing his future to the club.

In a Press conference after a training session on Thursday he responded to questions about his reasoning by saying: “What will I do if it happens again? Carry on playing? Nobody can tell me if there will be a relapse. I have spoken to [Andoni] Zubizarreta [Barcelona’s sporting director] and told him that I do not want to let anyone down, I went through difficult times and I think the most important thing now is my health.”

Abidal’s honesty has been widely welcomed and commended by the Catalan club and by the football community as a whole. The player is still following a strict dietary regime and taking medication, and has to undergo monthly medical checks as he continues his quest for full recovery. “I am still not at my best but as soon as I have recovered fully I will inform the club,” pledged the Frenchman.

Earlier reportsthat he was searching for a longer contract or an improved pay structure have been dismissed by the player: “I am thinking about my health and then my contract.”

Abidal also quashed rumours that he was considering an offer from French side Paris Saint-Germain: “It is possible they are interested but I have not had any offer. The only offer is from Barca.

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