Barcelona’s Abidal Leaves Club, Aims to Play on After Cancer

Eric Abidal said he’s leaving Barcelona after this season to pursue his career as a soccer player at age 33 after recovering from cancer and a liver transplant in the past two years.

Abidal told a televised news conference Barcelona didn’t offer to renew his contract. He made his comeback on April 6, one of four games he played this season.

“I would have liked to stay here but the club sees it differently,” Abidal, his voice breaking up with emotion, told a news conference at Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium. “I have to respect that decision.”

Abidal’s teammates including Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Carles Puyol attended the news conference, clapping the French defender’s speech at the end.

Abidal, who joined from Lyon in 2007, helped Barcelona to win four Spanish league championships and two Champions League titles.

He said he could return in the future after getting a “very interesting” offer for a non-playing role.

“I appreciate the gesture,” Abidal said.

He didn’t immediately give more details about the role or say for which club he might play next.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Duff in Madrid at aduff4@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at at celser@bloomberg.net

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