BARCELONA'S French international defender Eric Abidal will undergo a liver transplant in "the coming weeks".
The 32-year-old, who signed from Lyon in 2007, underwent surgery in March 2011 to remove a liver tumour.
"During the next few weeks, the player will undergo a liver transplant as a result of the progress of his liver disease," the club said in a statement.
"A transplant was considered an option from the start of his treatment a year ago. At the express wishes of the player, the club asks that the maximum respect for the player's privacy be observed."
Abidal was in the form of his life last season before a tumour was discovered on his liver in March.
He made a rapid recovery after undergoing surgery and drew loud cheers as he made a symbolic return May 3 in the final minutes of Barca's return 1-1 Champions League semi-final tie with Real Madrid, who were eliminated.
"I have never experienced this before," the defender said at the time of his reception from the crowd.
"I can sense that the people love me and I love them too and will try to do my best for them on the pitch, as always."
Abidal has been a regular this season for Barcelona, having started in 20 first division matches.
He made his international debut in 2004 and has played for France at two World Cups as well as the 2008 European Championship.
In January Abidal agreed a new one-year deal with Barcelona which ties him to the club until 2013 with automatic options to extend it by two more years.