Barcelona defender insists he might have stayed

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Former Barcelona defender Eric Abidal has claimed that he might have stayed with the club, were it not for the departure of popular manager Pep Guardiola. 

33-year-old Abidal, who has won 62 caps for his native France, ended a six-year stint at Camp Nou this summer and joined Claudio Ranieri's Ligue 1 title hopefuls Monaco on a free transfer.

The Lyon-born full-back has endured a difficult time of late and only made his return to professional football in April after a successful liver transplant operation that followed the discovery of a tumour. 

Following his exit from the La Liga champions, Abidal has claimed that he might have been awarded a new contract had Guardiola, who now manages last season's Champions League winners Bayern Munich, not exited the club last summer. 

"Things could have been different had Guardiola still been at Barcelona. He's a person who really appreciates me and we still have contact regularly," he told French newspaper L'Equipe. 

"He is a great coach and gave me the chance at Barcelona. If he had still been at Barca, I might have continued there.

"The problem is that my contract was running out. It was difficult to accept, but I had no choice but to move on. It was hard to understand Barcelona's stance at my final press conference. It was not about money. The club didn't even pay me during my illness."

Despite his disappointment at not being offered a new deal with Barcelona, Abidal insists he remains optimistic over his future back in his homeland.

He added: "My time at Barcelona has come to an end, but I'm happy with my new start at Monaco."

Abidal is embarking upon his second stint at Stade Louis II, having previously represented the club for two years between 2000-02. Monaco currently sit at the top of the Ligue 1 table, having achieved three wins and a draw from their first four fixtures. 

The club will be looking to continue their excellent start to the campaign with a home fixture against Lorient on September 15. 

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