Barcelona captain Carles Puyol has expressed shock at Tito Vilanova stepping down as Barcelona coach to continue with his cancer treatment.

Vilanova had appeared to have got over the cancer of the salivary gland, which caused him to miss several months of last season as he underwent treatment in New York, but the club explained that a routine test had shown the coach needed to continue with his treatment for the illness which was first detected in 2011, reports Xinhua.

“It was a tough blow. We take a few of those, but this was really hard,” said Puyol on Monday.

“Nobody expected it and the team was really affected by it. Tito spoke to us and calmed us down, but it is bad news that we had to take. It is an illness and people are the most important things,” he said, adding that the now former coach had asked the players to keep on fighting as he would as well.

Puyol said he was recovering from the knee injury which saw him miss the end of last season and the Confederations Cup, adding that he did not believe that Cesc Fabregas would leave the club despite a big offer from Manchester United.

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