Is Eric Abidal an ideal free agent signing for Arsenal?

Eric Abidal

Could Arsenal sign Eric Abidal for nothing this summer?

It has been described as one of the toughest decisions Barcelona have ever had to make, deciding not the extend the contract of defender Eric Abidal.

The Frenchman inspired the football world by fighting back from life-threatening illness, undergoing a liver transplant.

After being cleared by doctors, he made his comeback in April, and has featured in four games.

At the age of 33, Abidal is not ready for retirement yet, and will want to find a club where he is valued and can rebuild his career.

The decision by Barcelona to release him clearly came as a shock to the defender.

"I would have liked to have stayed and played on but the club saw it differently and I have to respect their decision. In the end there are only two paths, to carry on or not. I will carry on elsewhere."

I'm leaving but I'll probably be back. I have an interesting offer on the table that I need to think about."

Who that offer is from, is yet unknown, and so clubs cannot afford to hang around if they wish to take on his services.

Abidal added that he wants to retire at 35, so has to think carefully on how to fill that two-year timeframe.

A club who would do well to consider his services would undoubtedly be Arsenal, where his experience could prove invaluable.

Now fans may well be sceptical given his illness and the fact the last time the club bought a 30-plus-year-old French defender it was Sebastien Squillaci, but Abidal demands a closer look.

The very fact he has been playing for Barcelona, no less, tells you everything about his ability at the top of his game.

With three centre-backs competing for two spots, in Mertesacker, Koscielny and Vermaelen, what Arsenal need is a reliable fourth option - to slot in and play when called upon.

Squillaci will leave the club this summer while Djourou will also be moved on, while Ignasi Miquel has never really convinced on any of his rare outings for the side.

Importantly Abidal can play in either full-back position, so when there is an injury/suspension crisis, he can be the ultimate utility man for Arsene Wenger.

On a free transfer he is certainly worth a look, and his experience will no doubt rub off and prove beneficial to younger members of the defence like Kieran Gibbs.

A French international of 61 caps, he also brings with him a winners mentality and quite literally a never-say-die attitude.

As a replacement for the duo of Djourou and Squillaci - Arsenal could do far worse than bring him in for a couple of seasons as they look to boost their prospects of improving on fourth.

image: © NathanF

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