Abidal announces Barca departure

Madrid, May 30 (IANS) FC Barcelona defender Eric Abidal announced Thursday that he will leave the football club at the end of the season.

The 33-year-old made the announcement in a press conference held alongside club president, Sandro Rosell and director of sport, Andoni Zubizaretta and with first team coach Tito Vilanova and the rest of his companions from the Barcelona first team squad in attendance, reports Xinhua.

Abidal has spent six years at Barcelona and has won the hearts of the supporters after he was diagnosed with a liver tumor in March 2011. He recovered from that and was able to lift the Champions League title at the end of May that year with the rest of his teammates after Barca had defeated Manchester United at Wembley.

However, in March 2012 it was announced that he needed a liver transplant as a result of 'unresolved issues' following his first treatment and the following year was spent recovering from the operation and recovering his fitness.

The defender made a handful of appearances at the end of this season, but the club has opted against renewing his contract, although he was offered a non-playing role at the club.

"This is a complicated day for me. I have been six years at the club and it has been the best experience of my life as I have had the best companions in the world," said Abidal, who also thanked the medical team behind his recovery.

"I had two objectives, which were to fight to see my children grow up and to be with my wife and the other was to play again. I want to play for two more seasons and at the moment I don't have any offers," he said.

Abidal will make his final Barca appearance when Barcelona entertain Malaga in what is now certain to be an emotional final game of the season.

"I hope the coach gives me some minutes Saturday," he said, before again thanking his Barca teammates.

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