Football

Abidal in crisis talks with Barcelona after Messi row

Argentine superstar demands sporting director to name names after his dressing room criticism

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu called a meeting with Eric Abidal on Wednesday (Feb 5) to discuss the sporting director’s future at the club, following a public row with Lionel Messi.

This comes a day after Messi criticised Abidal for saying many in the squad were not working hard under former coach Ernesto Valverde.

Abidal and Bartomeu sacked Valverde last month, replacing the coach with Quique Setien.

Abidal, a former teammate of Messi, explained why Valverde was sacked despite the team being top of La Liga in an interview in Spanish newspaper Diario Sport.

“Many players weren’t satisfied or working hard and there was also an internal communication problem,” he said.

“The relationship between the coach and the dressing room has always been good, but there are things as an ex-player that I could smell. I told the club what I thought and we reached a decision (on Valverde).”

Messi, however, hit back at Abidal in an Instagram post, circling an image of the sporting director’s quote.

“Sincerely, I don’t like to do these things, but people have to be responsible for their jobs and own their decisions,” Messi wrote.

“The players (are responsible) for what happens on the pitch and we are the first to admit when we haven’t been good.

“The heads of the sports department have to take their responsibilities too and, above all, own the decisions they make.

“Finally, when you talk about players, you have to give names because if not, it makes everyone dirty and gives air to things that are said which are not true.”

Abidal and Messi played together at Barcelona between 2007 and 2013, with the French defender returning to the club after retirement to become sporting director in June 2018.

Earlier on Tuesday, Abidal had spoken glowingly of Messi and had sounded optimistic of an extended deal.

“I’m sure we’ll come to a deal with Leo because he knows we need him. He’s on top form, enjoying his game and breaking records,” said Abidal.

“We, as a club, want to make him even happier and to do that by surrounding him with the right teammates.

“We want a strong team with a good everyday feeling and, above all, we want to win titles.” – AFP, REUTERS

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