Arsenal have been dealt a blow in their pursuit of Barcelona defender Eric Abidal.

The French international full back has been linked with a move away from Catalonia, with his current deal set to expire at the end of the season and fears growing over his long-term future at the Nou Camp.

Arsene Wenger, a known admirer of the 32-year-old, was reportedly preparing an offer for the former Lyon star, but Abidal has dealt a blow to Arsenal by hinting he's close to an agreement with Barca.

"There is a 90 per cent chance I will stay with Barcelona," he told Canal Plus.

"I had a meeting with the board. We reached an agreement, and the only thing left is to sign the contract. Then, the adventure with Barca can continue."

It's little surprise the La Liga champions have moved to tie down the player amidst interest from the Gunners, with Abidal featuring 18 times in all competitions for the Spanish outfit this term.

Wenger spent big to strengthen his Arsenal defence in the summer, with Per Mertesacker and Andre Santos moving to the Emirates in August.

And, after a shaky start to the campaign, the north London outfit have quickly strung a solid run together to move within striking distance of the Barclays Premier League top four.

Abidal would have added further experience and quality to the Arsenal backline, but Wenger will need to look elsewhere if he is to strengthen in the position in the New Year.

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