BARCELONA have been dealt a huge blow following the news that Marc-Andre ter Stegen will be sidelined for almost three months.
The 28-year-old had been playing through the pain barrier and finally underwent surgery on a knee problem this week.
He had hoped to be fit in time for next season after deciding to go under the knife as a preventative measure.
Yet Barcelona have now confirmed that the German International is expected to be sidelined for ten weeks.
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Ter Stegen had been plagued by a knee problem during the recent weeks of the extended 2019-20 season.
And the Catalan No1 finally had the chance to clear up the issue after Barcelona's campaign finished with an 8-2 mauling to Bayern Munich.
Ter Stegen had written on Twitter: “The medical experts and I discussed to do this ‘clean-up’ as there were some irritations earlier this season.
“It’s a proactive intervention in order to prevent and prepare for the future.
“I will need some weeks to recover and to return to 100%. I’m calm and positive about the situation, I will come back soon.”
Ter Stegen's extended absence will prove a bitter blow for Barca, who had listed the German as one of only two 'untouchable' players in their squad.
Reports in Spain name a figure of £115million that must be made up in player sales to balance the books of the Camp Nou club.
And only star forward Lionel Messi and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen were thought to be safe from the axe.
The Catalans are said to be working on contract renewals for both players but those have been put on hold until the pandemic eases.
Ter Stegen's injury also likely ends Chelsea's interest in signing him this summer to replace flop shot-stopper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The former Borussia Monchengladbach ace made his 46th and final appearance in Barcelona's disastrous Champions League exit.
The Spanish giants suffered an 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich in a result that cost head coach Quique Setien his job.
It also meant that the Blaugrana ended the season without a trophy for the first time in 12 years.
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