Barcelona's France international defender Eric Abidal is to undergo a liver transplant, the club have announced.
Abidal, 32, had liver surgery a year ago after being diagnosed with a tumour, and played in the Champions League final win over Manchester United a few months later.
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 request the utmost respect for the right to privacy."
Abidal has been a first-team regular this season. He has started 20 league games, 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. He signed a one-year contract extension in January.
The club's captain, Carles Puyol, said the news was a "rude awakening" for the squad, who felt inspired by their team-mate's courage.
"We have talked to him, and logically those conversations stay in the dressing room. But it is he who encourages us. His attitude is an example.
"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. It's a major blow – we had the news last season and now we get it again – but this will make us even stronger."