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Football: Abidal says health, not contract, comes first

Barcelona defender Eric Abidal said Thursday he is stalling on a new contract offer from the Spanish giants because he is focusing fully on his health six months after undergoing surgery to remove a liver tumour.

The France international, who is in the middle of contract negotiations before it expires in June 2012, admitted he has yet to recover his old form and does not want to mislead anyone about his health.

“I am thinking about my health first and then the contract,” he told reporters after a Barcelona training session.

“Yesterday I was in Paris undergoing tests again. This tumour has affected me. Life can change. I am undergoing treatment and I don’t know how my body will react,” Abidal said.

“I am taking pills every day. Today I am fine, I don’t know how I will be tomorrow. If it happens to me again, do I carry on playing or not?” the Frenchman said.

The 32-year-old said he had received an offer from Barca and had spoken to sports director Andoni Zubizarreta.

“The first thing I told him is that I don’t want to mislead anyone. I have had some difficult moments since the operation and I want to think about it because for me health is the most important thing.”

The left-back was in the form of his life last season before a tumour was discovered on his liver in March.

After undergoing surgery he made a rapid recovery, and made a symbolic return May 3 in the final minutes of Barca’s return 1-1 Champions League semi-final tie with Real Madrid, who were eliminated.

According to the Spanish press Barcelona are offering a one-year extension while Abidal would prefer two years.

“Health comes first, I want to return to play at my level,” he said. “Once I get to my level I want to speak to the club again.

“It is complicated because we are not machines, but I hope to recover the level I was at before.”

Abidal denied a September 5 report in the Spanish daily Sport that Paris Saint-Germain had made “a very interesting offer” for him.

“They may be interested in me because they think it is my last year here. I have not received any offer, nothing,” said the player, who described Paris Saint-German as a “spectacular club.”