BARCELONA (Reuters) – Barcelona will not be destabilized by a possible clash between talisman Lionel Messi and sports director Eric Abidal, coach Quique Setien said on Wednesday.
Barcelona's Lionel Messi in action with Levantes Ruben Vezo REUTERS / Albert Gea
The normally introverted Messi caused a stir on Tuesday when he criticized his former teammate Abidal and said in a post on Instagram that the club's hierarchy, not the players, should take responsibility for Ernesto Valverde's dismissal last month.
Abidal had told the newspaper Sport that "many players under Valverde were not satisfied or worked hard". Messi replied by saying that Abidal should indicate which players he had in mind so as not to affect the image of the entire squad.
Messi's intervention dominated the front pages of Wednesday's sports papers: Sport said his reaction triggered a tsunami, Marca said the Argentinians "knocked out" while AS directed their "FC Chaos" issue.
Setien said he had spoken to the players about the disagreement for about a minute and they were only concerned about their upcoming games, starting with the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey on Thursday at Athletic Bilbao.
"I will do everything I can to make sure that this does not affect the team. All I care about is tomorrow's game and the commitment to move on to the next round." I can't control anything else and I won't waste my energy, ”he told reporters.
"This situation doesn't concern me. I can only give the players the tools they need to get the most out of their talent." Every club has its problems, but there are things that I cannot control. So please just talk to me about soccer. "
Messi's criticism of Abidal came on the same day Barca learned that winger Ousmane Dembele had broken the hamstring and would miss the rest of the season.
Setien said he was more concerned with Dembele's injury than with Messi's thoughts on social media. He added that the club's goal scorer was in a good mood and should not be reminded of his responsibility.
"Of course I think he's as motivated as ever, he smiles, he looks good and he loves to come here to train. He's the same as yesterday or the day before," added Setien.
"Messi has enough experience and the ability to know what to do. I won't get involved in his life or that of others." I am not the father of one of these players. All I have to do is get them to exercise. The rest of it is not part of my job. "
Reporting by Richard Martin; Edited by Christian Radnedge