Eric Abidal's season is
almost certainly over and he is unlikely to represent France at
Euro 2012 after his club Barcelona announced he will undergo a
A cult figure among fans of the Spanish, European and world
champions, the 32-year-old defender had surgery to remove a
tumour from the organ last March before making a triumphant
return to lift the Champions League trophy at Wembley just two
"Over the coming weeks, the player [Abidal] will undergo a
liver transplant," Barca said in a brief statement on their
website on Thursday.
"The transplant was an option already mentioned since the
start of his treatment a year ago," they added.
The club did not say how long Abidal would be out of action
but recovery from a transplant may take up to six months and
there is a risk the body will reject the new liver, according to
Britain's National Health Service (NHS).
Abidal's Barca team-mates and many other players and
officials in Spain and beyond rallied behind him following the
announcement, with Barca striker David Villa, himself sidelined
with a broken leg, saying they needed him back in the team as
soon as possible.
"All my strength for Abidal!" Villa wrote on his Twitter
feed. "You will get through it. You are very strong. We will all
be by your side."
Central defender Gerard Pique wrote on his feed: "You will
return and you will do it like always, being the best! You are
an example for everyone."
Barca are losing Abidal at a critical time in the season,
with the Champions League holders through to the quarter-finals
of Europe's elite club competition and bidding to close a
10-point gap with Real Madrid in La Liga with 12 games left.
They are also due to face Athletic Bilbao in May's King's
Abidal is likely to be replaced in Barca's line-up by Adriano
and captain Carles Puyol is also able to fill in at left-back.
"It was a big shock," Puyol told a news conference on
Thursday, explaining that coach Pep Guardiola had told the squad
about the transplant before training with Abidal present.
"When you see him it's him who is keeping our spirits up,"
Puyol said. "He is very strong, he showed that last season and
he will show it again."
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