BARCELONA defender Eric Abidal is to undergo a liver transplant, the club have confirmed.
The France international had liver surgery a year ago after being diagnosed with a tumour.
A statement on Barcelona's official website read: "In the coming weeks, the player will undergo a liver transplant."
The 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."
Barcelona did not give any indication of for how long Abidal would be out of action.
The 32-year-old underwent surgery last March but returned to play in Barcelona's Champions League final win over Manchester United, and has been a first-team regular this season.
He has started 20 Primera Division games this term, although he has not played since suffering a hip injury playing for France in their friendly win over Germany at the start of the month.
Abidal's Barcelona team-mate Gerard Pique backed the Frenchman to return stronger than ever.
He posted on his Twitter account: "And you will return as always, still the best! You are an example for all! # animoabidal."
Abidal missed just seven weeks following his surgery last year, returning to the team for the end-of-season run-in with a number of substitute appearances, although his only start was in the Champions League final when he was given the honour of lifting the trophy.
The Catalan giants have 12 games left to play this season in the Primera Division and are through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.