Lionel Messi and his representatives are in talks with Barcelona over a new contract, the defending champion’s sporting director Eric Abidal confirmed to Mundo Deportivo in an exclusive interview.
“They are already talking,” Abidal, the former Barcelona defender, said. “I do not know if we will have news soon because the decision will depend on the player, but for us as a club I hope it is sorted as soon as possible.”
Messi – a five-time Ballon d’Or winner and Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer – joined the club’s well-known academy, La Masia, at the age of 13 and is under contract until 2021 but was recently questioned about his future after Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed that the Argentine can leave Camp Nou on a free transfer due to a clause in his contract.
Asked when he expects an announcement to be made on a new and improved contract, Abidal made it clear he’s unsure but hopes it happens: “It will be known when it is known, but I am positive.”
Throughout seven games in La Liga this season, Messi has scored eight goals and assisted in four occasions. In his latest appearance for the Catalonian side – a 4-1 win over Celta Vigo – the No. 10 scored a first-half hat-trick.
Abidal also confirmed that Barcelona are in talks with breakout teenage starlet Ansu Fati and his camp on a new deal.
“We are also talking to him,” Abidal said. “He is a young player that we have to protect. We have to talk to his family and representatives.”
Earlier this year, the 17-year-old became the youngest player in the league’s history to score and assist in the same game.
Both Eric Abidal and Barcelona have denied reports that the club bought a black market liver for the defender’s transplant six years ago.
According to reports, Spanish authorities have intercepted and recorded phone conversations that implicate former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell, who is currently in Spanish prison for money laundering, as having purchased a black market liver for Abidal’s operation.
Abidal, 38, is now the technical secretary for Barcelona. He had a transplant back in 2012 to remove a cancerous tumor.
“I feel obligated to communicate my annoyance and sadness in relation to today’s news about my alleged illegal liver transplant,” Abidal wrote in a statement released on Twitter. “Out of respect for my family, the medical team, and everyone who has undergone a similar situation, I would like to sincerely apologize if at any point there has been doubts about the unsoundness of the news published today. My cousin Gerard donated his liver to save my life and for this I am truly grateful to him. Existing procedures and protocols were followed at all times and all the medical documentation that proves so is available.”
The club also released a statement to say they “roundly deny any irregularity in the matter.” “The club are saddened by the lack of rigor in the spreading of such information about such a sensitive issue,” Barcelona said.
The Catalan Department of Justice was able to confirm via a spokesman that they had investigated Rosell for the “alleged illegal purchase of an organ” earlier this year, but the investigation has since been closed and no charges were filed.
After the surgery, Abidal returned to Barcelona in April of 2013 before completing a transfer to French club Monaco later that summer. Rosell is set to stand trial for his money laundering charges related to television rights for Brazil matches.
It’s money versus money, and it may very well decide Ligue 1. In fact, the way Paris Saint-Germain has looked so far this year, even a decisive AS Monaco win this Sunday at Stade Louis II may not be enough.
But, goodness will it be fun to watch.
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PSG has a roster loaded for bear and have lost just once in 23 Ligue 1 matches this season, boasting a record of 16W-6D-1L. Their high-flying attack — lead by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and Lucas Moura — is a huge problem for defenses, but their miserly defending has been superb. Ligue 1 squads have managed just 15 goals against PSG, which has pitched 12 clean sheets.
And yet, for all those marks on their ledger, PSG has a mere five-point lead on new big spenders AS Monaco. Promoted just last season, Les Rouge et Blanc has allowed just one more goal than their Sunday rivals. And while they haven’t been as high-scoring, especially with Radamel Falcao out, Monaco still has plenty worth fearing. In addition to nine-goal man Emmanuel Riviere, there’s new loanee Dimitar Berbatov and Colombia wizard James Rodriguez.
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Monaco captain Eric Abidal says it’s all about stopping Zlatan, and it’s hard to argue that point. But the names that will flash across the screen while monitoring this game may shock those who pity or ignore the French game: Alex, Carvalho, Thiago Silva, Mountinho, Cabaye… the list goes on and on.
If there’s a time to watch French football… it’s Sunday. If you’re looking for a prediction, I’ve got one for you: 1-1, with Rodriguez matching Cabaye/Zlatan.
The best soccer teams exhibit bonds between teammates that go deeper than the playing field.
Former FC Barcelona defender Éric Abidal, who resumed playing full-time in April after a successful transplant, said Dani Alves offered to donate his liver to his ill teammate.
In an interview with Catalunya Radio, in which Abidal also said he would likely return to Barcelona after his playing days to coach, the Frenchman demonstrated that just how deep the sentiment of togetherness and brotherhood on a soccer team can go.
From AS in English:
My relationship with Dani goes much further than him taking my old No. 22 shirt. When I had to undergo surgery, he offered to donate his liver. Of course, it’s completely out of the question because he is a professional footballer. Our relationship goes much deeper than friendship.
Abidal’s return to top-flight soccer has been nothing short of miraculous, as he has played every minute of AS Monaco’s five league matches in the young 2013-14 season. He moved back to Monaco, where his professional career began 13 years ago, in the summer.
He has also played every minute in France’s two most recent World Cup qualifiers, a 0-0 tie in Georgia and a 4-2 win in Belarus. Although Abidal’s career may be nearing its end, as he only signed with Monaco on a one-year deal with a one-year option, he has returned to the peak of the sport after a life-threatening illness.
Former Barcelona defender Eric Abidal has signed a one year contract with AS Monaco with an option for a second year.
The 33 year old has been a free agent since his contract at Barcelona expired in June and the Catalan club denied offering him a new deal.
As Pro Soccer Talk hypothesized during his tearful goodbye press conference at Barcelona, Abidal will now return to Monaco, where he began his professional career back in 2000.
More: The future of Eric Abidal following his release by Barcelona
Abidal’s career was derailed in March 2011 after being diagnosed with a liver tumor, which required surgery two days later. The Frenchman made a speedy recovery and was back playing for the Blaugrana later that spring, notably starting the 3-2 victory over Manchester United in the Champions League final.
But one year later it was announced that Abidal needed a liver transplant. In April 2012 he underwent the procedure and subsequently spent 12 months sidelined before returning in last April’s match against Real Betis. Abidal went on to make five appearances with Barcelona in the last two months of the season.
Abidal announced he had returned to Monaco on his official Twitter account, writing: “I am very happy to have returned to France and Monaco, where it all began for me.”
Abidal joins Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, Ricardo Carvalho, Jeremy Toulalan and Joao Moutinho as notable players who have signed with Monaco this summer.