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Barca's Abidal faces liver transplant

Messages of support have been flooding in for Eric Abidal following the news that the Barcelona defender is to undergo a liver transplant.

Team-mates, opposition players and fellow athletes have wished Abidal the best after Barca confirmed yesterday that the Frenchman would have a transplant in the coming weeks, a year after having liver surgery to remove a tumour.

The reigning Spanish and European champions did not give any indication how long the 32-year-old would be out of action for.

A club statement said: "Given the development of his medical condition, Abidal will undergo a liver transplant in the following weeks. 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 requested the utmost respect for the right to privacy and confidentiality."

The squad were told the latest news at training yesterday, with captain Carles Puyol saying: "We had a meeting minutes before going on to the pitch. It was a rude awakening. Eric was at the meeting. We then talked to him, and that stays in the dressing-room."

Puyol claimed Abidal was in good spirits. "It is him who encourages us. His attitude is an example," he added.

"We are confident that he will come out of this. We will give him all the strength we have and we will support him and his family.

!I am convinced that soon he will be fine. He is very strong -- he showed that last season and will prove it again.

Abidal's Barca team-mates used their Twitter accounts to offer the former Lyon player their support.

Striker David Villa, who is fighting back to fitness from a broken leg, said: "Giving Abidal all my support! You'll come through this!

"You're very strong. We're all by your side. We need you in the team!"

Winger Pedro Rodriguez added: "Strength and support friend. We are with you!"

Abidal's fellow defender Gerard Pique also backed the Frenchman to come back stronger than ever, tweeting: "And you will return as always, still the best! You are an example for all! £animoabidal."

Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas said on his Facebook account: "All the encouragement in the world to a fellow professional. It doesn't matter the colour of the shirt that is worn, the important thing is the person. Be strong Abidal!"

Irish Independent