AC Milan full-back Andrea Conti is set to undergo surgery on his left knee and spend another six months on the sidelines after tests revealed he had damaged his cruciate ligaments again.
Conti, who joined Milan from Atalanta in the summer, tore the ligaments in September after just two Serie A appearances for the club.
He suffered a setback in training last week and initial hopes that it was just a sprain were dashed when tests revealed that the ligaments had not regained enough strength and a further operation was necessary.
Extra tests on Tuesday confirmed the diagnosis, and Sky Sport Italia reported that Conti will undergo an operation on Thursday.
"We're all sad about it," Milan sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli told Milannews.it.
"He's an important player for us, in addition to being a great lad. I'm sorry for his morale levels, but that's the way it is and it's part of the game.
"He'll just have to be our first new signing for next season."
Conti is now due to return during the early stages of next season.