FC Barcelona have announced that France full-back Éric Abidal is to have a liver transplant.
"During the next few weeks the player will undergo a liver transplant as a result of the progress of his liver disease," said a Barcelona statement. "A transplant was considered an option from the start of his treatment a year ago. At the express wishes of the player, the club asks that the maximum respect for the player's privacy be observed."
The 32-year-old underwent an operation to remove a tumour from his liver last March but made a rapid return to fitness and lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy at Wembley in May. This season Abidal has featured in 22 Spanish Liga games and six more in the UEFA Champions League. He appeared in France's 2-1 friendly win away to Germany on 29 February but has not played since.
Barcelona captain Carles Puyol said: "It was very difficult hearing the news before we went out to train today. The coach told us and it was a nasty surprise. We spoke to Éric and he is in good spirits. He is an extremely strong person. He got over this last season and he will do so again. We will all be at his side and we send him our best wishes knowing he will be better soon."
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