Xabi Alonso has undergone a groin operation which could rule him out for much of Real Madrid's pre-season but should see him back fit in time for the new campaign.
Alonso, 31, had been managing the injury during recent months, playing through the pain in Champions League ties against Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund. The midfielder was included in Spain's provisional squad for this month's Confederations Cup, but was then one of three players cut from the final party by La Roja boss Vicente del Bosque.
The operation, which nonetheless came as a surprise to many in Spain, was announced via a short statement published on Madrid's official website on Friday.
"Real Madrid player Xabi Alonso was successfully operated on this morning for an athletic pubalgia [groin problem]," the statement read. "The surgery was carried out by a specialist in this condition, Dr. Ulrike Muschawek, from the Hernienzentrum in Munich. The operation was supervised throughout by Real Madrid Sanitas Medical Services."
Lacking any concrete details from the club, AS estimated the recovery period at between two and three months, which would mean Alonso would be fit to return when La Liga begins again on August 17.
The operation would appear to rule out a summer transfer for the midfielder, who has just 12 months left on his current deal at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. Speaking this week Blancos president Florentino Perez suggested that the former Liverpool player was waiting to see how his fitness held up during the next campaign before deciding on his future.
"Xabi Alonso wants to see how he is, he has one year left on his contract and, if he feels good, he wants to stay at Madrid," Perez said. "If he feels less good, maybe a move elsewhere would be studied. There is no type of problem, that he does not want to renew. If he feels good, he will stay, I have no doubt about that."
Asked if Alonso might play out the last year of his contract at the Bernabeu before moving back to England, perhaps back to Anfield or to team up again with Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, Perez said that he doubted this would happen.
"If Xabi could go to the Premier League, then he could be with Madrid," he said. "That is not what he should be thinking about. If he is fine, the best place to be is at Madrid."