There are new question marks over Carles’ Puyol’s ability to play a significant role for Barcelona again, after he has been forced to undergo another knee operation.
The 35-year-old defender missed most of last season with a serious knee injury and did not play after March.
The club has announced Puyol is currently undergoing the operation, and has been ruled out of Barca’s pre-season planning.
The World Cup winner is also a major doubt for the opening games of next season, and could well be considering hanging his boots up for good.
"Carles Puyol will undergo ambulatory surgery on Wednesday morning to remove a Baker's cyst in his right knee," a Barca statement said.
"The surgery will take place at the Unitat del Genoll [knee-unit] of the Institut Catala of Traumatology and Medicine of Sport. The player is expected to be out of action for three to four weeks."
When he was injured last season Puyol was linked to AC Milan.
But he admitted he was closer to retiring due to his chronic knee injury than he was to joining another club.
"I never thought about leaving for Milan, but I did think about having to retire from football," Puyol said at the time.
"I do not know if I could go through another year like this. This injury is behind me now, I am very positive and not thinking about a recurrence. My idea is to keep working this summer to arrive at pre-season in the best shape possible, to be at 100%. [But] if the problems continue and I cannot train well, I will have to leave it."
Barca rewarded Puyol for his loyalty and feats for the club with a contract extension last season, and his deal at the club is set to run until 2016.
But he has reportedly told Barca president Sandro Rosell that he is happy to have his contract annulled if doctors say his knee will never fully recover.