Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Barcelona defender Eric Abidal to have 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 this afternoon 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."

Abidal underwent surgery almost a year ago to the day and was out for just seven weeks, 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 victory over Manchester United when he was given the honour of lifting the trophy.

The squad were told the latest news at training today, with Barca 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 logically 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.

"It's a major blow. We had the news last season and now we get it again. But this will make us even stronger."

Abidal has been a first-team regular this season, starting 20 Primera Division games, although he has not played since suffering what was described as a hip injury playing for France in their friendly win over Germany at the start of the month.

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

Striker David Villa, who is currently 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!"

Barca 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."

Various Primera Division clubs also offered their best wishes to Abidal, along with numerous players from both inside and out of the Spanish league.

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!"

France international Louis Saha added on Twitter: "I'm gutted for Abidal. Wish him all the good for this Op but this man is animal. Will come back stronger again."

Chelsea's former Valencia winger Juan Mata tweeted: "I'd like to send my support to Abidal, who has already proved his enormous strength and endurance, and will get through this too."

Messages of support were not limited to the world of football either.

Minnesota Timberwolves' Spanish basketball star Ricky Rubio, who recently suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury, tweeted: "Abidal, an example of a fighter. You will get through this!"

Barcelona have 12 games left to play this season in the Primera Division and are through to the final of the Copa del Rey and the quarter-finals of the Champions League.