Abidal set to leave Barca

Popular former France defender Eric Abidal fought back tears on Thursday as he announced he would be ending his six-year spell with Barcelona when his contract expires at the end of the season. 

“I would have liked to have stayed and played on at Barcelona but the club saw it differently and I have to respect their decision,” he told a news conference while struggling to control his voice.  “I am going but I will surely return.” 

The 33-year-old left-back, who fought his way back into the squad after having a liver transplant last year, was joined by club president Sandro Rosell and sports director Andoni Zubizarreta who praised him for his bravery in adversity. 

“He has won our hearts because you can never write him off,” Rosell said. “He has had the strength to overcome all types of difficulties -- he has taught us life lessons we will never forget.”

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