New Monaco signing Eric Abidal said he is ready to take on the captaincy role as Claudio Ranieri's side prepare to contend with defending champions Paris Saint-Germain for the Ligue 1 title.
Abidal, who only returned to competition in April following a liver transplant, re-joined the club with whom he made his professional debut 13 years ago in July after Barcelona opted not to renew his contract. "I'm very happy. I'm ready and full of desire. I try to show that on the pitch," said Abidal, delighted to be back in action following his well-documented health scare.
Despite being handed the captain's armband by Italian boss Ranieri, Abidal insisted he did not feel under any additional pressure. "No, my position has changed since 2000. At 33, I must take on my role and I'm ready to do so. I spoke to the coach. I like to give, without necessarily receiving. If the others are happy, if we win, then I will be very happy," said the defender.
A busy close season saw newly-promoted Monaco shell out a reported €144.5m on new players, with Abidal adamant that a goal of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League was not unrealistic.
"No. We shouldn't hide it. But we'll have to give it our all to make our ambitions reality as the season will be difficult," said the left-back. "Given the players we have recruited, we are expected to do so. We will indeed be favourites sometimes, but in football this word doesn't exist."
The defender also spoke of his desire of a return to the national team, having been capped 61 times by his country. "In order to hope to return to the French team, certain steps have to happen, and I need to play matches. It would be nice to have it as a goal but I don't like to speak too quickly. I want to prove myself before thinking more about it."