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Balotelli on compassionate leave

Liverpool
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Abidal in line for Monaco captaincy

Former Barcelona defender Eric Abidal has revealed his ambition to be handed the captaincy at Monaco next season, insisting he will be able to influence the club's younger players.

Abidal, 33, received the armband when he was substituted on in Monaco's 3-2 defeat to Fortuna Dusseldorf on Sunday and played 35 minutes in his return to the Ligue 1 club.

As the France international prepares for his first full season of football since being diagnosed with liver cancer, he urged coach Claudio Ranieri to allow him to lead Monaco.

"During my career, I've never tried to be captain. But I've changed," he told L'Equipe. "I have more experience and the coach wants to trust me. I speak Spanish and I want to help young people. If it means becoming captain, I will accept and take on the job without any problems.

"We have not yet spoken. I'm not against it; on the contrary, if the coach has confidence in me, I will make him feel it. This is very important; I think I can bear it. Now, only time will tell."

Ranieri has already narrowed down his selection, with Abidal one of three players in line to be handed the captaincy.

"I'm considering between last year's captain [Valere] Germain, [Jeremy] Toulalan or Abidal," Ranieri said. "Abidal is coming from the Monaco academy."

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