Abidal becomes latest departure at Barcelona

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Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal has had his contract terminated by mutual consent, the La Liga club have announced.

The former France international's departure continues a post-season overhaul at the Camp Nou, with head coach Quique Setien sacked following the humiliating 8-2 Champions League quarter-final loss to Bayern Munich.

A report by Sport suggested the majority of the Barcelona first-team squad are up for sale ahead of Ronald Koeman's expected appointment as Setien's successor.

Lionel Messi is not among the vast list of Blaugrana players thought to be on the market, although a report by Marcelo Bechler – the journalist who broke news of Neymar's shock move from Barca to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 – stated the six-time Ballon d'Or winner wants to leave.

What increasingly looks like a sizeable rebuild will now not be helmed by Abidal, who has been under pressure since the botched handling of Ernesto Valverde's departure.

Setien's predecessor was dismissed in January after Barcelona were knocked out of the Supercopa de Espana, despite them being top of La Liga at that stage.

"FC Barcelona and Eric Abidal have reached an agreement for the termination of the contract which united both parties," a club statement read.

"The club publicly expresses its gratitude to Eric Abidal for the professionalism, commitment, dedication and positive and close treatment he has always shown towards all the estates that make up the Barca family and wishes him luck and success in the future."

Abidal always looked vulnerable after Barcelona's collapse at home – Real Madrid regained the La Liga title – and abroad.

Despite a succession of underwhelming and expensive signings since his June 2018 appointment, from a flop on the grand scale of the now departed Malcom to the hugely underwhelming and publicly pursued Antoine Griezmann, Abidal's handling of Valverde's exit marked something of a nadir.

A coach responsible for back-to-back La Liga triumphs, albeit set alongside painful Champions League exits at the hands of Roma and Liverpool, was undermined by reports of Abidal apparently courting Xavi for his post, only for the club great to reject a return to Barcelona in the dugout and pave the way for Setien's doomed tenure.

Most significantly, especially given recent reports around the 33-year-old captain's future, Messi reacted furiously to Abidal's suggestion the Barcelona players had not been working hard enough under Valverde.

In an Instagram post in February, Messi wrote: "Honestly, I don’t like doing these things but I think that everyone has to be responsible for his acts and take responsibility for their own decisions.

"The players [are responsible for] what happens on the pitch, and we have been the first to recognise when we were not good. The people in the sporting directorate should also assume their responsibility and above all take ownership of the decisions they make.

"Finally, I think that when players are talked about, names should be given because, if not, we are all being dirtied and it feeds comments that are made and are not true."

The prolonged torment of the past few months stands in stark contrast to Abidal's inspirational playing days at Barcelona.

A €9 million signing from Lyon in 2007, he went on to star in the 2008-09 treble-winning side under Pep Guardiola – the honours of that season being the first of four La Liga titles, two Champions Leagues and two Copas del Rey that Abidal won as a player in Catalonia.

In March 2011, Abidal was diagnosed with a tumour in his liver and underwent surgery to have it removed.

Remarkably, he was back in action before the end of the season and played 90 minutes in the 3-1 Champions League final win over Manchester United, after which he was handed the captain's armband to lift the trophy at Wembley.

The 67-cap France international was forced to undergo a liver transplant the following year but again made a comeback before moving to Monaco at the end of the 2012-13 campaign, eventually retiring as a player in December 2014 after a short stint at Olympiacos.

Source Omnisport