Abidal joins big-spending Monaco - club

08 July 2013 04:32

French international defender Eric Abidal has signed a one-year contract with Ligue 1 newcomers Monaco, the big-spending principality club said on Monday.

The 33-year-old, who left Spanish La Liga champions Barcelona at the end of last season following six years in Catalonia, has an option for a second season.

It is a return to Monte Carlo for Abidal, who has played most of his career at left-back but did feature in the middle of defence for Barca, having spent two seasons there at the beginning of the last decade.

The former Lille and Lyon player underwent a liver transplant in 2012 and only made his comeback to competitive football in April earlier this year.

Abidal had said he wanted to remain at Barca but the Spanish giants decided against offering him a new deal.

"It's very emotional, it's huge. After what I've been through, it wasn't easy to find a club with confidence in me," Abidal told Monaco's website.

"I had other options after Barcelona (but) my choice was simple. I came on June 10 and spoke to Mr Vadim Vasilyev (the sporting director).

"I kept my word. I'm delighted to be here and to be in good health. It's quite unique for me because I started here at 19 years of age.

"I really wanted to come back, I have a lot of memories and I went through a lot of emotions here.

"I fought hard to continue playing once the paths of illness and my life crossed each other."

He has played 61 times for France and joins a host of new signings at the club owner by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev.

Another French international Jeremy Toulalan joined from Malaga on Saturday while Ricardo Carvalho from Real Madrid, Moutinho and James Rodriguez from Porto and Falcao from Atletico Madrid have all already moved to the principality.

Monaco are expected to challenge another big-spending team Paris Saint-Germain for the French title next season, their first since 2000, the year before Abidal first joined the club.

"I don't want to talk about a future big club. Monaco have always been one. I was there 13 years ago and they had great players," added the full-back.

"Even in Ligue 2 the club had a lot of ambition. Now, the important thing is to put them where they want to be: in a position to win the league and qualify for the Champions League."

Source: AFP