Eric Abidal recently signed for AS Monaco after months of speculation about his future. The former Barcelona defender wasn’t offered a renewal in the Catalan club, which met strongly split opinions among Barcelona’s fans and left Abidal to search for a new destination. Even now when the dust has settled a bit, Abidal’s situation remains very interesting as he is set for a new season in the club where he once started his career.
Abidal’s previous health issues are well known and the Frenchman was only able to return to action in the very end of last season. His talks with Barcelona went on for several weeks but in the end the Catalans only offered him a job off the field, which didn’t satisfy the player, who still had the desire to continue his playing career.
Many people in Barcelona were left frustrated, even infuriated by the decision. The Frenchman’s value couldn’t be measured in performances (or the amount of them) alone and many felt that he was treated unfairly and that he’d still have had more to offer, even if the decision might have valid sporting reasons that some could agree with.
In Abidal, Barcelona most certainly lost a solid, experienced, and incredibly smart defender whose endless passion and desire strongly suggest that he still has a lot to offer in the world of football. Perhaps,however, the risk of his health issues renewing was something Barca didn’t want to take. Whether there ever was a concrete risk or not remains to be seen, but the risk wasn’t great enough to stop AS Monaco from signing the player.
Monaco investing in what Barcelona saw as a risk might cast Barcelona in a negative light, but either way, what remains most important is that the player gets to continue his career as he wished. Barcelona will surely continue to offer him a job in the club off the field whenever the player decides to hang up his boots, and until then, Abidal will have the opportunity to finish his career in the club where it originally started.
AS Monaco was indeed the first club of Abidal’s professional career. Having come a long way since then and played all around Europe, he now gets to symbolically finish the circle of his playing career. In Monaco, Abidal could be mainly used as a center back as he might no longer have the pace required to play on the wing. For a club like Monaco, who are making huge investments and building for the future, a player like Abidal might be incredibly valuable, not only because of his quality as a player.
Abidal has won several domestic titles as well as two Champions Leagues; in other words, he knows what it takes to win. He was a part of Barcelona when their climb towards the top of Europe began and such experience could prove to be crucial to Monaco, who ultimately aims to do the same thing, although with a bit of a different strategy.
As a moral decision, Barcelona will find it hard to defend their policy with Abidal, but it’s only the player’s performances with Monaco that will fully determine whether it was a smart sporting decision or not. Surely, all football fans all over the globe will wish the best for Abidal, who is respected and admired by rival fans as well, and hope for his health issues to finally be in the past.
The signing of Abidal remains at least a tiny bit of a risk, but at this point, it might well be a risk worth taking for AS Monaco, who surely don’t seem to lack the funds to invest in a player and make sure he gets the best kind of treatment if needed. His value as a natural leader on and off the field could be something incredibly valuable for Monaco, as it may have been for Barcelona too had they held on to the player.
Written by Jen Evelyn