Barcelona star Lionel Messi has hit out at director Eric Abidal after the latter appeared to hint the players were the reason former manager Ernesto Valverde was sacked.
Abidal spoke to Sport and said some of the players weren't working as hard as needed. Per Lucas Sposito of Sport Witness, he also spoke of communication issues and relayed his thoughts to the club board ahead of the decision to sack Valverde.
Messi took to Instagram, saying people should take care of their own responsibilities and Abidal should name the players he was speaking of (h/t Spanish Football Podcast):
The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast
Messi responds to Abidal re: Valverde’s sacking: “I think everyone has to be responsible for their own jobs and take responsibility for their decisions... when you talk about players, you should give names because if not, you’re feeding things that people say and aren’t true” https://t.co/nYDSPyY515
Spanish football expert Sid Lowe was shocked:
Valverde was sacked in January and replaced by Quique Setien after a defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup. The Catalans were leading La Liga at the time―tied on points with Real Madrid―and the tactician had guided the team to two straight domestic titles.
His shortcomings in the UEFA Champions League and the dire style of football played by his teams were seen as the main reasons behind his sacking. The Blaugrana have played more attractive football under Setien, but they have slipped behind Real in the title race.
The January transfer window was a disappointment for Barcelona, who failed to bring in a replacement for the injured Luis Suarez. Fellow forward Ousmane Dembele suffered an injury of his own on Tuesday, and he could miss the rest of the season, per Marca.
That leaves the team with virtually no depth at the forward positions. Abidal is responsible for recruitment, and per Sposito, some will see Messi's comments as a dig at the director. Spanish football writer Dermot Corrigan believes his days are numbered, and the fallout could reach far beyond that:
A former team-mate of Messi, Abidal returned to the club in 2018 to take on the post of director of football.
In the same interview with Sport, Abidal said work is underway on a contract extension for Messi. He hopes they can settle on a long-term deal, rather than renewing every year as the Blaugrana currently do.