LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 14: Renato Augusto of Leverkusen challenges Eric Abidal of Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Barcelona at BayArena on February 14, 2012 in Leverkusen, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)
"There is no objective reason for him not to return. If he says he will be back in December, the road is clear."
Juan Carlos Garcia-Valdecasa
That was the response of Juan Carlos Garcia-Valdecasa, renowned specialist in the field and the surgeon in Abidal's recent liver transplant when he was asked about Eric Abidal's possible return. It's as clear an indication as any that Abidal will someday return to football and Barcelona seem to share that optimism, naming the Frenchman in their squad for the UEFA Champions League. So, it seems the question is no longer "Will Abidal return to football?", rather, "What role will Abidal have upon his return?"
Barcelona bolstered their defensive ranks with the summer signings of Jordi Alba from Valencia and Alex Song from Arsenal, but they still appear to be lacking at the back. Abidal has proven himself to be an exceptional player in either position (left-back or in the centre), although there are question marks over his condition if and when he does make a return. Will he still have the athleticism required to cut it at the top level? Will his fitness levels be as high as they were prior to the operation? There are so many questions, but we know Abi has answered them all once before. Within weeks of his return in 2011 he started the Champions League final and played a crucial part in Barcelona's 3-1 win; can he do it again? Vote in our poll below, will Abidal return to the starting XI, or do you think he will he have to settle for a place as a "squad player"?
Note: In our last poll, we asked you for your opinion on international friendlies: are they good or bad? It appears from our response that the majority of you (52%) think they are bad, although it was fairly close as 30% voted that they are good for our players.