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Abidal to undergo liver transplant

Barcelona have announced that defender Eric Abidal is to undergo a liver transplant.

• Abidal extends Barcelona stay

France international Abidal, 32, had liver surgery a year ago after being diagnosed with a tumour.

On Thursday, a statement on Barcelona's official website read: "In the coming weeks, the player will undergo a liver transplant.

"Given the development of his medical condition, Abidal will undergo a liver transplant in the following weeks.

"The transplant is an option that has been considered since the beginning of his treatment, one year ago.

"At the express wish of the player, the club requested the utmost respect for the right to privacy and confidentiality.''

Barca captain Carles Puyol said of the news: "We had a meeting minutes before going on to the pitch. It was a rude awakening. Eric was at the meeting. We then talked to him, and logically that stays in the dressing room.

"It is him who encourages us. His attitude is an example. We are confident that he will come out of this. We will give him all the strength we have and we will support him and his family. I am convinced that soon he will be fine.

"He is very strong, he showed that last season and will prove it again. It's a major blow. We had the news last season and now we get it again. But this will make us even stronger."

After overcoming surgery to remove a liver tumour last spring, Abidal made an emotional return before the end of the season and started Barca's UEFA Champions League final win over Manchester United.

The versatile stopper has made over 150 appearances for Barca, and in January he signed a one-year extension with the Spanish club.