Barcelona have revealed that defender Eric Abidal is suffering from a liver tumour and will undergo surgery on Friday to treat it.
The Catalans revealed the news on Twitter, with Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas and Real Madrid stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka quick to send out their best wishes to Abidal on the social networking site.
Abidal, 31, has been a regular in the Barcelona team this season and it is unclear exactly how long the operation will rule the France international out for.
"A liver tumour has been detected in the player Eric Abidal and he will be treated surgically next Friday," Barcelona announced. "Abidal will be operated on by Dr Josep Fuster Obregon. Per the express wish of the player, we call for the utmost respect for the right to privacy.''
The club later confirmed that Abidal will undergo surgery at the BarnaClinic Grup Hospital Clinic, in Barcelona.
Fabregas, a former Barcelona youth player, wrote on Twitter: "Much encouragement and a lot of strength to Eric Abidal. Bad news for football.''
Ronaldo, who plays for Barca's major rivals Madrid, wrote on the social networking site: "I hope it all goes well with Abidal, and that he gets back soon'', while his team-mate Kaka added: "What sad news about Eric Abidal, tumour in the liver! Let's pray for him ... God bless!''
Capped 52 times by France, Abidal made his international debut in 2004 and has played for his country at two World Cups as well as the 2008 European Championship.
Last week, Barca vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu said the club were planning to offer Abidal a new contract, to keep him at the Camp Nou for at least two more years.
"We will definitely offer him a contract extension until after 2013," Bartomeu was quoted as saying by Ona FM. "He has made a lot of progress this term and has really changed. He was a good player before and has now developed into an excellent player."