The Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o looks certain to miss both his side's Champions' League ties with Chelsea next month because of a knee injury. He will also miss Barça's visit to Real Madrid in between the two Chelsea games.
Eto'o was carried off in the Catalans' 1-1 draw at Werder Bremen on Wednesday after pulling up in the 65th minute. The Cameroonian, the Primera Liga's top scorer last season, had asked to be substituted.
Eto'o underwent exploratory surgery on his right knee last night in San Cugat, outside Barcelona, after officials confirmed that he had torn the cartilage. Club doctors said the recovery time for this type of injury is normally two to three months. A key player in Barça's European Cup and domestic title success, Eto'o suffered a less serious injury to the same knee in April.
Barcelona are likely to turn to their former Chelsea forward, Eidur Gudjohnsen, or Argentina's Javier Saviola to lead their forward line. Saviola rejected 14 offers to leave the club this summer and returned to a hero's reception in last Sunday's 1-1 draw against Valencia. The Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard will give his strongest indication of who he is likely to favour when Barça visit Athletic Bilbao this Saturday.