Barca's Abidal to Undergo Liver Transplant


Barcelona's French international defender Eric Abidal will undergo a liver transplant in "the coming weeks", the Spanish club said Thursday.

The 32-year-old, who signed from Lyon in 2007, underwent surgery in March 2011 to remove a liver tumor.

"During the next few weeks, the player will undergo a liver transplant as a result of the progress of his liver disease," the club said in a 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."

Barcelona did not give any indication of how long Abidal would be out of action but the operation puts him in doubt for the French team in the June 8-July 1 Euro 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine.

After Abidal underwent surgery in March 2011, he had not been expected to return to the pitch until August of that year.

But he made a surprise return on May 3 in the final minutes of Barca's return 1-1 Champions League semi-final tie with Real Madrid, who were eliminated.

It was a remarkable recovery for the player, who wondered if his career might be over after being diagnosed with the tumor.

"I thought that I wouldn't play again... When they detect a tumor you immediately think the worst and it was the first thing I asked the doctors," he said at the time.

"I see things differently now. Many things that you think were useful, aren't any more. That's why I've sold all the cars that I had.

"When you suffer a problem like mine, all the cars you have don't serve for anything. For this I've sold them and the money will go to the fight against illnesses with some associations that I have had contact with," Abidal added.

Abidal has been a regular this season for Barcelona. He started in 20 first division matches although he has not played since picking up a hip injury playing for France in their friendly win over Germany at the start of March.

His teammates expressed encouragement after the announcement that he would undergo a liver transplant.

"All my strength for Abidal! You will get through it. You are very strong. We will all be by your side," Barcelona striker David Villa, who is sidelined with a broken leg, wrote on his Twitter feed.

Barcelona capitain Carles Puyol said the news of the transplant was a "tough blow" but he was confident that his teammate would make a full recovery.

"We are sure that he will emerge from this. We give him all the strength that we have and will be at his side. I am convinced that very soon he will be fit again very soon," he told a post-training session news conference.

"When you see him, it is he who encourages us. He is very strong, he demonstrated it last season and he will demonstrate it again."

Abidal made his international debut in 2004 and has played for France at two World Cups as well as the 2008 European Championship.

His contract had been due to expire at the end of the current season, but in January Abidal agreed a new one-year deal with Barcelona, which ties him to the club until 2013 with options to extend it by two more years.