Barcelona have confirmed that Coach Tito Vilanova will undergo surgery tomorrow after suffering a relapse of his health difficulties.
Vilanova initially had surgery to remove a tumour on his parotid gland just over a year ago.
“In the process of monitoring the parotid gland, there has been an extension of his condition which will require surgery on Thursday,” begins the statement published on the club’s website a short while ago.
“The time of hospitalisation is expected to be around three or four days. Later Francesc ‘Tito’ Vilanova will undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment which will last about six weeks.
“During that time, according to his evolution, the treatment may be compatible with his working life. In response to the patient’s wishes please respect the privacy of the process.”
President Sandro Rosell and sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta will hold a Press conference at 7.45 CET to discuss the matter further. Assistant Coach Jordi Roura has been tipped to temporarily fill in on the Blaugrana’s bench.
Suspicion arose earlier today when the club cancelled a Christmas lunch with journalists, before confirming that a statement would be made later.
Although the news has been officially confirmed by Barca only recently, expressions of support and solidarity have been flooding in all afternoon.
“All my strength and support to Tito Vilanova, we are with you to overcome this step,” tweeted Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal, whilst Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera used the same social network to describe Vilanova as ‘a fighter’ who has overcome serious illness before.
Barcelona’s arch rivals Real Madrid have also wished the tactician well.
“Real Madrid CF wish to express their support, love and affection to Barcelona Coach Tito Vilanova, whom we wish the quickest recovery,” read a note on their official website. “Real Madrid extend this support to your club and your family.”
Los Blancos players Marcelo and Alvaro Arbeloa individually encouraged Vilanova on Twitter.
The news comes just days after the 44-year-old discussed his ordeal during the first health scare in an interview with TV3.
“When they told me it was a hard moment, and I thought about the children more than me. I don’t know if I would have been able to put up with what my family had to, I don’t know if I would have been able to stand it if one of them had been the patient.
“I had to do radiation and chemo, but I started working again in a couple of weeks and felt very loved.”
Vilanova, formerly Pep Guardiola’s assistant, was handed the top job last summer, and has subsequently lead Barca to their best ever start to a La Liga season, winning 15 of their 16 fixtures.