After six years of service, Eric Abidal is to leave Barcelona this summer, upon the expiry of his contract in June. Also, Victor Valdes explained the reasoning behind his decision to leave the club in 2014
Éric Abidal has told an emotion-packed press conference this Thursday lunchtime that he is leaving FC Barcelona
. "It’s quite a difficult day" he admitted. "I have played here for six years, and it’s been the biggest experience of my life. I had two aims – to fight to be able to see my two daughters grow up and to play again. I’d have loved to have stayed here but I have to accept the club’s decision". He added that "I’m leaving but I’ll definitely be back. Thank you for the gesture".
The goalkeeper has thanked the club for everything it has done for him in two decades and has explained why he has decided to leave when his contract expires in 2014. Valdes said that he announced his decision in January because that was when he definitively made his mind up. "To avoid speculations, I felt obliged to make the announcement personally. The club thought differently. I know that some people might feel let down and I beg forgiveness, that wasn’t my intention. I have faced up to the fans, I have been sincere and transparent".
The vice-president of Barcelona last week described the Portuguese’s departure as "a scourge being lifted from the face of Spanish football". And his view had not softened during a short trip to England earlier this week. "It is not good for English football. Chelsea maybe think they had a good time from him in the past. But you will see the real Mourinho now. If he behaves like he did in Spain it will only be an unhappy relationship. A disaster. And at his age he is not going to change."
Manuel Pellegrini will raid the Spanish market to add more foreign flavour to his Manchester City squad. The Chilean has given the go-ahead for City to bring in Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazilian defensive midfielder Fernandinho and he has asked the club’s hierarchy to work on deals for Real Madrid
defender Pepe, Malaga’s attacking midfielder Isco, Sevilla
winger Jesus Navas and Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara. It is a potential outlay of £86million.
Once the game is over, all of the players will be wearing a shirt saying "MERCI ABI22" and will make their way to the centre circle while 22 child members will form a guard of honour for Abidal, his daughter and their cousin Gerard. This will be followed by a video in honour of Abidal, and team captain Carles Puyol
will present his colleague with a commemorative shirt as a memento from the whole squad.
Champions Barcelona have the chance to finish with a record-equalling 100 points in La Liga’s final round of matches, but the main drama will be in the fight to avoid the three relegation berths on Saturday. The rest of La Liga’s matches will decide one place in the Champions League play-offs and three in the Europa League. Four teams at the bottom separated by two points are battling to avoid the three tickets into the second division. Most eyes will be focused on Real Sociedad
’s trip to play Deportivo La Coruna at the Riazor, where the final result affects top and bottom.
The Brazil defender is believed to be a top target for Barca after he impressed their scouts in the closing stages of the season. And in a week when the Catalan club have been linked with a £25million bid for Luiz, he has confirmed he is aware of Barcelona’s interest and says he would enjoy playing for the club. ‘My objective is to be happy and this is possible by playing in a team that controls the ball,’ said Luiz. ‘I know Barca are interested in my services, but I do not have any news.’
Miroslav Djukic will step down as coach of Real Valladolid
at the end of the season, the club have confirmed. Djukic, who took over at Valladolid in 2011 when they were in the second division, said: "It's time to find another challenge." The 47-year-old helped the team win promotion to the Primera Division last season and they are guaranteed to finish no lower than 14th this term.