Barcelona footballer Éric Abidal to undergo liver transplant

Friday, March 16, 2012

Éric Abidal has been at Barcelona since signing from Lyon in 2007.
Image: Mutari.

FC Barcelona defender Éric Abidal will be taken into surgery for a liver transplant in the next few weeks, his club announced yesterday.

The France international football player, 32, had previously undertaken surgery to remove a tumour from his liver in March 2011. He recovered from the initial operation in time to win the UEFA Champions League with his club in May. In a statement, FC Barcelona cited ongoing medical concerns as reason for the player's admission. "Given the development of his medical condition, Abidal will undergo a liver transplant in the following weeks", the statement read. It added: "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 request the utmost respect for the right to privacy."

His club did not estimate how long he will be out of action, and there is serious doubt as to whether or not Abidal will be fit in time to make the French side for the Euro 2012 Championships, set to be held between June and July in Poland and Ukraine. Teammates posted messages at social networking site Twitter to convey their goodwill for the defender. Forward David Villa, who is currently out of action with a broken leg, said, "All my strength for Abidal! You will get through it. You are very strong. We will all be by your side." "You will return and you will do it like always, being the best", wrote central defender Gerard Pique. "You are an example for everyone."

Abidal signed with Barcelona in 2007, leaving his old club Lyon. So far this season he has made 20 first-team appearances for the Spanish side; he has not played since injuring his hip in an international friendly against Germany earlier this month.

After his recovery from his surgery in 2011, he said he "thought that [he] wouldn't play again", and told of how he sold all the cars he owned, donating the money to "the fight against illnesses with some associations that I have had contact with".