Newly-promoted AS Monaco have completed the signing of former France international Eric Abidal as they continue to build a squad with a view to being equipped to challenge for the Ligue 1 title.
Abidal, 33, made a tearful departure from Barcelona in May after his contract expired but the defender vowed to continue playing.
He had recovered after receiving a liver transplant in April 2012 but there was uncertainty about where he would end up following a six-year spell at the Spanish champions.
But on Monday, Monaco announced that Abidal, who won 61 caps for France, had signed a deal for next season that includes an option to extend that contract by one year.
Speaking on ASMTV, the club’s official TV channel, the former Lyon full-back said he was delighted to be returning to the club where he started out in 2000.
“There’s a lot of emotion,” he said. “For me it’s huge because after what I’ve lived through, it wasn’t easy to get the confidence of a club.
“I’m happy because AS Monaco have faith in me and I have faith in them. I’m going to do everything not to betray their confidence.”
Abidal had undergone a medical at Monaco last month but when the Ligue 2 champions hesitated, he suggested he might re-join his former coach at Lille, Claude Puel, who is now at Nice.
But instead he becomes Monaco’s ninth signing of the close season.
“It’s a return to my roots,” Abidal said. “I’m happy to be able to come back 13 years afterwards, in conditions that are different, because the club has developed.
“They won the second division last year and they’re a young club that’s really worked really hard to be able to join the elite. So I’m really happy to be able to take part in this adventure.”
Big-name signings Radamel Falcao, Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez will be presented to the media on Tuesday, while Jeremy Toulalan, Ricardo Carvalho, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, Fabinho and Anthony Martial have also bolstered Claudio Ranieri’s squad.
Monaco owner Dmitry Rybolovlev’s summer spending spree is thought to have cost around €145 million so far.