Ill-health puts Eric Abidal's career in doubt at Barcelona
Eric Abidal is to receive a liver transplant from a relative as the Barcelona defender seeks to recover from serious ill health.
The France international had surgery on a liver tumour last March, yet recovered in time to play in his club's Champions League Final victory over Manchester United.
Barcelona have known since the beginning of February that Abidal would also require a transplant to deal with his liver problem.
The information was kept confidential until Thursday when Pep Guardiola and Abidal informed a team meeting ahead of training.
Abidal's condition is understood to be the result of a chronic Hepatitis B infection.
The 32 year old is not expected to have recovered from the transplant - his relative is donating half his liver - in time to represent France at the European Championship.
There are also serious question marks over whether he will be able to resume his club career.
"It's clear that everything will go well and that he could play sport at a high level, but football is a contact sport and one of the things that you have to avoid after a transplant is trauma and blows in that area," said transplant specialist Rafael Matesanz.
"He has to take a series of precautions for the rest of his life, including not getting hit in that area. He will have medical treatment for life and will have to have regular check-ups."
There are few cases of professional sportsmen requiring liver transplants during their career.
Ivan Klasnic, the Bolton Wanderers striker, recovered from a kidney failure and transplant in 2007 to represent Croatia at the last European Championship.
"Abidal has behaved impeccably," said Barcelona coach Guardiola. "He has taught us so many things, but I imagine it's not easy for him on the inside. If he's loved so much it's because he has won that love.
"The Camp Nou's ovation in the semi-finals of the Champions League was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen ... I'm sure that that will give him a lot of strength to get through this."
Abidal's contract was due to expire at the end of this season, but was extended in January for a further year with an option until 2015. He has played 22 league games in Barca's current campaign.
Updated: March 18, 2012 04:00 AM