Eric Abidal has confirmed that he will leave Barcelona at the end of the season.
The 33-year-old French international defender is out of contract at the Spanish champions, and they have opted not to offer him a new one.
"I would have like to have stayed and played on at Barcelona but the club saw it differently and I have to respect their decision," Abidal told a press conference on Thursday.
"I hope to return because the club is very special to me."
Abidal play more than 100 games for Barca after joining them from Lyon in 2007, winning four La Liga titles and two Champions League trophies in the process.
He was a much-loved member of the Blaugrana family, and the club was shocked when he was diagnosed with liver cancer in March 2011.
He returned after a spell away receiving treatment, but was later forced to undergo a liver replacement, with the organ donated by one of his cousins.
And although he returned to action in April this year, Barca have decided that Abidal no longer has a playing future at the Camp Nou.
Barca fans will forever remember the scenes after the club won the 2010-11 La Liga crown, and the players hoisted Abidal into the air to celebrate. And soon after, when they beat Manchester United in the Champions League final at Wembley, and Abidal lifted the trophy wearing the captain’s armband.
It is unclear whether or not Abidal will continue to play. But if he fancies a return to France, there is certainly one ambitious club there that could use a player of his experience and influence.