Éric Abidal: “Dani Alves offered to donate his liver”
“I never wanted to imply that I didn’t want to continue under Tito Vilanova yet I would have stayed if Guardiola was still the coach”.
AS Monaco defender Éric Abidal gave an interview to Catalunya Radio this week in which he cleared up any misunderstandings about his recent comments about Barcelona and said that his relationship with Dani Alves is much more profound that a simple, casual acquaintance.
L’Equipe recently published comments of yours which were subsequently refuted by Barcelona. Is it a matter which you have now cleared up with the club?
I have no problems with Barcelona. The agreement was signed and Barça’s version of events is completely true but what I said is also true. I don’t have any problems with anyone –not Sandro Rosell, Zubizarreta, Vilanova or with the fans. It’s all settled now. One day I will return to Barcelona with the same happiness which I have always enjoyed there.
Do you envisage your future back at Barcelona, in another capacity?
I have an agreement with Barça for when I retire from playing. The idea is that I will be offered a role in the football school, which I am almost certain to accept.
Does it hurt you not to have continued at Camp Nou?
I wanted to play for Barça right up until the day I decide to quit but what I wanted most of all was to continue playing football. I am very happy that it has turned out that way for me.
Did you understand Barça’s concerns about your health?
Even I myself had my doubts about whether I would be able to return to the game. It’s quite normal to have doubts. Now I feel perfectly fine although I still have to undergo revisions on a regular basis.
In the article published in L’Equipe, you hinted that if Guardiola had stayed, you might have stayed too...
No, I’d like to make it clear that, at no point, did I ever say that I would leave if Tito Vilanova took over but if Guardiola had stayed, I would have stayed. I have spent five years with Tito and four with Pep. Pep Guardiola is more direct, that’s what I meant to say. I have nothing against Tito at all.
Is it true that Guardiola asked Bayern if they would take you to Germany with him?
Guardiola wanted me to join him at Bayern, I won’t deny that. What happened is that it’s not really up to him. It’s a complicated matter and more so because of my health issues. Bayern’s directors and medical didn’t want to take that risk which I fully understand. But I understood the gesture perfectly.
You get on well with Pep – and with Dani Alves, who has inherited your old squad number.
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.
What memories do you cherish of your time at Barça?
Lifting the Champions League trophy at Wembley. I sometimes dig out the DVD to watch it.