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29.06.2007 10:41

Strength and experience

Roger Bogunyà

Éric Abidal became FC Barcelona's third signing of the summer ahead of the 2007/08 season and will strengthen the defence as he can play on the left and in the centre of the back line.

After capturing compatriot Thierry Henry and Ivory Coast international Yaya Touré earlier in the week, Abidal put pen to paper on a four-year deal. Born on July 11, 1979 in Lyon, the French defender is an accomplished left-back, who can also step into the middle as well as having played in the defensive midfield role. He also has vast experience at the highest level having played regularly for France and in the Champions League for several seasons. His move to Camp Nou will give him his first experience away from French football.

Personal attributes

His height and strength do not make him a typical full-back as he stands at 1.86m and weighs 75kg, but that allows to slot into different positions if needed. His capacity to go forward up the line and help out around the opponents’ area as well as his high technical and tactical ability makes him an outstanding acquisition. His arrival will see the left-back position covered after teh departue of Gio van Bronckhorst to Feyenoord.

Moving on up

abidallyon_lyon.jpgAbidal's first professional club was Lyons-la-Duchère, who play in th French CFA2, whom he joined in 1999-00, After only one season he moved on to AS Monaco in the French top flight and made his debut on September 16, 2000 against Toulouse. During his two seasons at Monaco he became a key player and appeared alongside Ludovic Giuly and Rafael Márquez.

In the summer of 2002, Abidal opted to join Lille where he spent two more campaigns and became a regular in the team. During hte 2003/04 season he played in 35 of the club's 38 league games.

Back home

At the end of the season, Abidal returned home as he agreed a move to Olympique Lyonnais, where he continued to play until agreeing to join FC Barcelona. The summer of 2004 also saw him reach another mielstone as the full-back made his full international debut for France in a game against Bosnia on August 18.

After playing for his country in the World Cup Finals in 2006, where he played the full 90 minutes in six of his team's seven games, Abidal returned to Lyon where he completed a third season as a regular. As the club swept to another league title, Abidal played 31 games as well as appearing in seven Champions League matches and ten internationals.

Below is an outline of Abidal's career in France, including his appearances per season.

1999-00, Lyon-la-Duchère, CFA2
2000-01, Monaco, Ligue 1, 8
2001-02, Monaco, Ligue 1, 14
2002-03, Lille, Ligue 1, 27
2003-04, Lille, Ligue 1, 35
2004-05, Lyon, Ligue 1, 29
2005-06, Lyon, Ligue 1, 14
2006-07, Lyon, Ligue 1, 33
Strength and experience
Abidal has vast experience at every level as he spent seven seasons playing in the French first division, has appeared in three Champions League campaigns and the last World Cup Finals in Germany in 2006. He has played 24 times for France and has collected an impressive collection of winners’ medals. As well as three French championships (2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07), he has won the Champions Trophy three times (2004, 2005, 2006) and was a runner-up in the League Cup in 2007. For the national team, Abidal played in the final of the World Cup last summer against Italy, which France lost on penalties.

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