Promising young Espanyol defender Victor Alvarez is to undergo a heart operation and is unlikely to return to action until late 2013.
Club medical staff detected a cardiac problem last summer, but Alvarez has been able to play this season under precautions and completed all 90 minutes of last Sunday's 2-0 defeat away at Deportivo la Coruna.
A statement published on Espanyol's club site on Tuesday confirmed that an operation to resolve the issue would take place this week.
"Victor Alvarez will undergo surgery for a cardiac problem in an aortic valve, which has been monitored since it was diagnosed last July by the club's medical services and the cardiac services at the Hospital Clinico de Barcelona," the statement said.
"The intervention, scheduled since last December and details of which have been finalised in recent hours, will take place on Thursday May 23 at the Hospital Clinico de Barcelona, under the supervision of the hospital's cardiological services."
Hospital Clinico surgeon Josep Brugada told Radio Catalunya that Alvarez would need a substantial period of time to recover from the operation.
"Victor Alvarez will not be able to begin next season," Brugada said. "He will be out for three or four months. It would give me satisfaction if he could play a game in the last quarter of the year."
Alvarez, 20, is a full-back from Espanyol's youth system who is set to have first-team contract next season. He has made 18 La Liga appearances this term, five as a substitute.