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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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Barca to reward Abidal

Barcelona are hoping to secure Eric Abidal to a new contract after praising his "excellent" performances this season.

Abidal, 31, has been in impressive form for the La Liga leaders, whether operating in his usual position of left back or filling in at centre back, as he did in the Champions League win over Arsenal on Tuesday.

The France international has not always looked at home in Barca's collection of superstars but with 18 months to run on his contract, he has convinced vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu of his value to the side.

"We will surely offer him a contract beyond 2013," Bartomeu told Ona FM. "He has made a change this year, a good player has become an excellent one."

Abidal, who was a member of the France squad that infamously went on strike during the 2010 World Cup finals but has since returned to the side, has also earned praise from les Bleus coach Laurent Blanc.

"On purely defensive level, he has always been one of the best French defenders. But he has greatly improved," Blanc told France Football. "What he achieved against Arsenal was exceptional."

Abidal joined Barcelona from French club Lyon in the summer of 2007.

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