Eric Abidal has admitted he is increasingly likely to join Nice after Monaco ended their interest and provoked the ire of the France international defender's agent.
Abidal, 33, has been seeking a new club, most likely the last of his career, since Barcelona decided not to extend his contract at the end of last season. The former Lyon and Lille man revealed last month he had held talks with Monaco sporting director Vadim Vasilyev and even undergone a medical with the principality club concerned about his fitness following a liver transplant last year.
However, having heard nothing more from the Stade Louis II and with reports emerging in France of an agreement between Monaco and Lille on a €15 million fee for another left-back, Lucas Digne, Abidal told Nice Matin a reunion with former coach Claude Puel is now a serious option.
"In my situation, it's logical to leave the door open to this club," Abidal, who started his professional career under Puel at Monaco before joining him at Lille, said. "If I sign for Nice, I'll be one of the oldest in the squad. Claude will be able to count on my experience. It'll allow me to feel younger...You can do a lot with young players. The more time goes on, the greater the likelihood [of signing at Nice]."
Despite the player's optimism, Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere was reported as saying "the bar was too high" in terms of Abidal's wage demands for a move to be completed just yet.
While Abidal appears to have taken Monaco's rejection in his stride, his agent, David Venditelli, told RMC he was angered by the newly-promoted club's behaviour following their initial approach.
"I haven't heard from Monaco," he said. "The manner in which they have dealt with this matter is disturbing, disrespectful even. Monaco had the chance to show that they're not just a club of money by taking a player on a free, which they didn't do. I respect their choice in sporting terms not to take Eric Abidal, but I don't accept the way in which they treat people."