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Jun 29, 2013

The way Eric Abidal saga has ended had left a very bad taste in every Barca fan's mouth. Many expected it to be resolved favorably especially towards the player - but it wasn't to be. At this moment there are rumors about Abidal being signed by Monaco, the newest rich club in the block. The way the club handled the entire issue of his renewal literally forcing Abidal to walk out of the club, have to admit was very disgraceful. Abidal always made it clear that he wanted to continue playing even after the liver transplantation. But for some reason the club expected him to retire from active football and become a club mascot/icon. It is understandable that the club had doubts about Abidal's fitness and availability but as far as I am concerned if we had to take a risk on one player it had to be him. And those reasons are not based on any sympathy or charity but on solid footballing reasons; I will detail those later.

As I said the doubts the management had about his future was pretty genuine and they did have the justification for looking for other options. But how they executed it was the most disgusting part of the entire saga. The player who made his intentions of staying in the club clear from the onset was kept in the dark about his future. Even after repeated appeal no one in the Rosell management found it necessary to clarify the stance of the club to the player. It looked like they kept him as a backup choice, but they underestimated the pride of a player who had beaten bigger challenges in life than football. Check out the latest Barca Transfer odds in sites like Betfair. So finally Abidal decided not to take the shit anymore and walked out of the club.

Abidal had a kind of roller-coaster ride in his Barca Career. His start to Barca career wasn't anything spectacular and questions were raised about his influence as our season went spiralling in 2007-08 season. With the arrival of Pep Guardiola, Abidal started to cement his place in the side and looked solid. But in those times also many Barca fans demanded the signing of a more attacking winger in the mold of Dani Alves. At times it felt that Eric Abidal will remain the most under appreciated player in the Barca squad. It took his prolonged absence from the team to understand the real value Abidal brought to the team. If we analyze the last two seasons, then the problems we faced boils out to a simple fact - the absence of Eric Abidal. His pace was missing in defense and his height and defending was missing when we dealt with set-pieces. But the club in their own right made an assessment that it was too risky to continue with him. To an extent it felt that for the management the Abidal story was only a huge marketing campaign. His story was played as a perfect example of how the club stood by the player in the need of the hour, but for some reason when it came to believing in the player they looked the other way.

Why I think letting him go was a mistake? There are many reasons for that. First of all let's assume that his fitness issues was a concern but still we could have given him a year's contract and that risk was as similar as the one we are taking with Puyol now, who will most probably spend the initial period in the operation theater. Secondly Abidal represents a rare breed in football especially nowadays - he is a pure Left back. If you look around the world you will seriously struggle quality left-back. The ones who excite us most are attacking full backs rather than the pure left back. Thirdly he is quick, and if he can regain his fitness he will be faster than all our defenders and that was an asset we missed last season. Fourthly he can play comfortably in the center of defense, something we will have to try this season again.

And finally we cannot afford to lose his height while defending set pieces. Pundits usually claim that we will struggle defending set pieces but if you look at the stats prior to the last two seasons that the numbers give a different picture. Among the best teams in Europe, we were conceding the least from corners. One of the reasons for this was the zonal defending system. In this system we will have one man, usually Busquets defending the near post and Abidal, Puyol and Pique in the center. Now that's three tall guys providing enough cover for Valdes. With Abidal replaced by Alba we have three tall guys. Busquets still patrol the near post, Pique and Puyol in the middle are simply overpowered by decent oppositions. And if Puyol is also not fit then we will struggle again. That's why I believe signing a tall central defender is not going to solve our defensive issues. With Abidal missing we have to substitute that height from somewhere in the pitch and in truth the team is becoming shorter than taller. Hence it is safe to say that Eric Abidal was a risk worth taking for us.

All About FC Barcelona is a Blog dedicated to the Most prestigous Club in the world, FC Barcelona by an ardent fan. Here I discuss about the Latest happening surrounding our Club and present my Views about the same.

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