Barcelona boss Quique Setien said on Wednesday that the club will not be destabilised by a possible confrontation between club talisman and skipper Lionel Messi and sporting director Eric Abidal.
The usually introverted Messi caused a stir by criticising his former teammate and current sporting director Abidal on Tuesday, by sharing a post on Instagram which said that the club’s hierarchy and not the players, should take responsibility for sacking Ernesto Valverde last month.
Abidal had earlier told newspaper Sport that he had sensed that “many players weren’t satisfied or working hard” under Valverde. Messi who is the team skipper through his Instagram post responded by saying Abidal should first name which players he had in mind so as not to tarnish the image of the entire squad.
Messi’s intervention dominated the front pages of Wednesday’s sports news dailies: as Sport said his reaction had caused a ‘tsunami’, while Marca declared the Argentina international had delivered ‘a knockout blow’. AS on the other hand headlined their edition as ‘FC Chaos’.
However, gaffer Setien told that he had spoken to the players about the disagreement for around a minute and that now they were only concerned about their upcoming matches. On Thursday, FC Barcelona plays Athletic Bilbao in their Copa del Rey quarter-final tie.
“I will do everything to ensure this does not affect the team, all I’m interested in is tomorrow’s game and the obligation to get through to the next round. I can’t control anything else and won’t waste my energy,” he told reporters.
“This situation doesn’t affect me, all I can do is give the players the tools they need to make the most of their talent. Every single club has its problems but there are things I can’t control, so please, only talk to me about football.”
Messi’s criticism of Abidal came on the same day winger Ousmane Dembele was ruled out of the entire season after rupturing his hamstring which now adds shortages in Barca’s attack as Luis Suarez to is ruled for the remainder of the season after suffering knee surgery.
Setien said that he is sure that the club’s all-time goalscorer was in good spirits and did not need to be reminded about his responsibilities.
“Of course I believe he is as motivated as ever, he’s smiling, he looks well and he loves coming here to train. He’s the same as yesterday or the day before,” Setien added.
“Messi has enough experience and ability to know what he needs to do, I’m not going to get involved in his life or anyone else’s. I’m not the father of any of these players, all I have to do is get them to train. The rest isn’t part of my job.”