Napoli have announced that Faouzi Ghoulam has undergone successful surgery on the broken kneecap he sustained in training on Friday.
The current Serie A leaders took to their website to provide an update to their fans over the full-back, who was dealt the cruel blow as he worked his way back to full fitness after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Ghoulam had been set to return to the first-team fold after a three-month spell on the treatment table with a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament problem, but is now ready to undergo yet more rehab after this latest setback.
In a statement posted online, Napoli explained that the operation was a success and gave a likely return date for the Algeria international.
The statement read: "Faouzi Ghoulam was operated on at Villa Stuart by prof. Mariani after fracturing his right kneecap in training on Friday.
"The player will begin his rehabilitation on Saturday and be re-assessed in two weeks' time but is expected to resume training in around a month."
(You may also be interested in Napoli Star 'Suffers Fractured Kneecap' During Training in Devastating Blow on Path Back to Fitness)
Ghoulam was feared to have another 'potentially serious' knee injury after he fell to the ground in agony, and the news will be a big blow to manager Maurizio Sarri, who had hoped to use the left-back to help maintain his side's push for the league title.
The 26-year-old only penned a new five-year deal with the Stadio San Paolo-based team in December and, according to teammate Dries Mertens, is the 'second best' full-back in world football.
Sky are reporting that Ghoulam fell on his own, that he did not get hurt whilst playing. From that note, I want to know how someone fractures a kneecap without banging it into anything/ anyone? Doesn’t add up to me— SSCNAmerica (@SSCNAMERICA) February 9, 2018
The Belgian forward spoke to Le Buteur about Ghoulam and heaped praise on the former Saint Etienne starlet - even going as far as to say he could be the next Marcelo.
Mertens said: “We are talking about a player who is so important to the team and we have seen how much we have missed him since his injury.
“In my opinion he could become the new Marcelo and I don’t know anyone who is stronger in that role.”