Barcelona have confirmed David Villa is set to be sidelined for between "four and five months" after the Spain striker broke his shinbone in today's 4-0 Club World Cup semi-final victory over Al-Sadd.
The 30-year-old was carried off on a stretcher six minutes before half-time and Barca announced soon after that he had suffered a "fracture to the tibia in his left leg", with the player taken to hospital in Yokohama for further tests.
An updated statement on the Barca website subsequently read: "In the coming hours, Villa will return to Barcelona, via Frankfurt, to be operated on. He will be accompanied by doctor Ricard Pruna and Manel Estiarte. The approximate time he will be sidelined is between four and five months."
The news means Villa is likely to miss the majority of Barca's Primera Division and Champions League campaigns, but could be available to world and European champions Spain for Euro 2012, which begins in June.
Barca coach Pep Guardiola said: "He will be greatly missed as a colleague and as a player. I hope everything goes well.
"He will be out for a long time. It's a big blow to the team. We just hope that he can play again as soon as possible.
"David is very dear to us. The injury has saddened us all. Everyone can put themselves in his place and know how they would suffer if it happened to them. They feel for him. We must accept it and encourage him in his recovery."
Guardiola insisted now was not the time to discuss January reinforcements in the light of Villa's absence.
"Let us have compassion and respect," he said. "Let's give it time. Now is not the time to talk about it."
Guardiola yesterday dismissed Spanish media reports linking Villa with a move away from the Nou Camp in the January transfer window.
Sports newspaper Marca claimed the player was ready to move on from Barca just 19 months into the four-year deal agreed following his 40million euro transfer from Valencia.
The speculation over the Spain international's future appears to have sprung from Guardiola's decision to omit the forward from his starting line-up for Saturday's 3-1 Clasico victory against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.
Marca suggested Villa had been made available for transfer and already touted to "the great English clubs, mainly Chelsea, Liverpool and Aston Villa", but Guardiola insisted the speculation was nonsense.
Speaking to reporters in Japan ahead of the Al-Sadd game, Guardiola claimed: "Marca lie. I have not spoken to David after the last match in Madrid, but all of the players are in my plans.
"I am the one who comes up with 25 different line-ups during the season because I feel that is the best thing to do.
"Most of the players that are here now will continue for the rest of this season and the next."
Villa has scored five times in 15 Primera Division matches this season, following on from his 18 goals in 34 games as Barca won the league title last term. He has made 75 appearances for the club in all competitions, scoring 32 goals.
Despite the loss of Villa before half-time, the European champions were in complete control from the first whistle to the last of today's match in Yokohama - although they were given a helping hand by Al-Sadd goalkeeper Mohamed Saqr.
Saqr's hesitation presented the opener to Adriano, who fired a second under the body of the keeper to make it 2-0 at the break.
Seydou Keita and Maxwell added another two in the second half to complete a comprehensive win and set up a final date with Santos on Sunday.
"Al-Sadd were very compact in defence and waited for their chance to hit us on the counter with their two quick strikers," Guardiola added.
"That made it hard for us to find space, but all in all we did a good job. Now we're looking forward to the final against Santos, a strong team with a lot of technically gifted players.
"We want to win the title like we did two years ago."
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