French champions Marseille suffered a huge blow last night when highly promising Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta was ruled out for the rest of the season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligaments in his left knee.
The 21-year-old - who has improved steadily after an uncertain start following his €7million transfer from Osasuna in the summer - suffered the injury in the early stages of Marseille's 4-0 league win over Montpellier.
"His season is over," confirmed Marseille coach Didier Deschamps. "It's a huge black mark. We are really disappointed for him, especially as he was in top form.
"It is a very sad moment for him, a young player of 21 years of age and full of self belief."
Deschamps, who earlier in the week guided Marseille to their first appearance in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League since the 1999-2000 season, said he would weigh up the pros and cons of whether to replace the young Spaniard immediately.
Deschamps has just one direct replacement in Charles Kabore.
"We could try and bring one in immediately, or we could take a small risk and wait for the transfer window in January," said Deschamps.