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Jul 9, 2013

Abidal: Choosing Monaco was easy

Eric Abidal has described his decision to join Monaco as "a simple choice" and expressed his joy at a "special" return to the Stade Louis II, where he made his professional debut.

Out of contract following Barcelona's decision not to prolong his stay in Spain, Abidal, 33, has signed a one-year deal with an option for a further year at the club where he made his Ligue 1 debut in September 2000.

"It was a simple choice. It's allowed me to come full circle. After Barcelona, I wanted to continue playing. I fought for that. Monaco were my number one choice. It's true that I had quite a lot of offers from other clubs. I respect my word," Abidal, who held talks and even underwent a medical at Monaco on June 10 to determine his fitness following last year's liver transplant, said at his official unveiling.

"It's special. I started at Monaco aged 19. It was an objective of mine to come back to the principality where I have a lot of memories. The president Dmitri Rybolovlev and everyone at the club have put their faith in me. Quite a few people had doubts given the state of my health. I'm happy to be at Monaco and in good health."

Having been preferred to Lille prospect Lucas Digne, for whom French media had reported Monaco had agreed a fee with their northern rivals, Abidal is now also determined to pip his rivals to a place on the plane for next summer's World Cup.

"Of course it remains an objective. But it starts with matches in the league, in the cups. I have to perform as well as possible for my club. Only after that can I push for a place in the France team," said the former Lille and Lyon defender, who won the last of his 61 caps in February 2012.

"There are a lot of surprises in life. Before, things were going well and then illness and the path of my life converged. But I fought. The important thing now is to be at Monaco with the aim of being champions and qualifying for the Champions League."

Presented to the media alongside fellow France international and former Lyon team-mate Jeremy Toulalan, Abidal is the last addition to the Monaco squad, with sporting director Vadim Vasilyev stating their eye-opening recruitment drive is over "for now".

The most high-profile newboy, Radamel Falcao, is due back from holiday to meet his team-mates this week, and Abidal, who played against the prolific Colombian in La Liga, is looking forward to the prospect of being on the same side as the man picked up from Atletico Madrid for an estimated Ligue 1 record €60 million.

Abidal added: "He's a great player. He didn't make a mistake coming here. We're going to do our best to help him score goals, which he knows how to do very well."

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