Barcelona's Quique Setien Stays Coy on Lionel Messi, Eric Abidal Comments

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistFebruary 5, 2020

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 30: Quique Setien of FC Barcelona looks the action during the Copa del Rey round of 16 match between Barcelona and Leganes at Camp Nou on January 30, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Eric Alonso/MB Media/Getty Images)
Eric Alonso/MB Media/Getty Images

Barcelona manager Quique Setien said he has nothing to do with the crisis building at the club involving star forward Lionel Messi and director Eric Abidal.

Per AS, the latter criticised Xavi Hernandez and former manager Ernesto Valverde in an interview with Sport while also saying certain players didn't work hard enough under the former boss. Messi responded via Instagram, telling Abidal to name those players and that everyone should stick to their responsibilities, per Lucas Sposito of Sport Witness.

Setien faced the press ahead of Thursday's Copa del Rey clash with Athletic Bilbao, and unsurprisingly, the row between the two was a major topic.

When asked about the issue, he said:

"The things you [the reporter] have mentioned are significant, but they don't affect me, and I'll try to make sure they affect the players as little as possible. We spoke about the [Messi-Abidal] issue for one minute. We have to focus on the game; that's our chief concern. I'm interested in the football; everything outside of that is something I can't control.

"This is a situation that affects you [the media], but not me. I focus on the football. All I'm interested in is giving my players the tools they need to win. There are problems in every club in the world. There are things I won't be able to control. Speak to me about football; the rest doesn't interest me. The rest doesn't help me in my job."

He also said Messi is free to respond as he pleases: "He has the experience and the knowhow to decide what he has to do. I'm not going to tell Messi how to live his life―or anyone else, for that matter. My job is to make sure they come into work happy. The rest isn't down to me."

According to Sky Sports, Abidal's future at the club is at risk after the public spat:

Sky Sports News @SkySportsNews

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has called a meeting with Eric Abidal to discuss the sporting director's future at the club following a public disagreement with Lionel Messi.

A former team-mate of Messi, the 40-year-old has been the director of football at Barcelona since 2018.

Per Robbie Dunne of AS, the situation is a complicated one because of the fact Messi has a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave the club for free.

That gives him far more power than most players in the sport:

Robbie Dunne @robbiejdunne

The problem with not backing Messi is that he has that clause that says he can leave at the end of the season. Imagine losing the best ever for nothing. https://t.co/6126F5zkmG

He's not the only player who wields an impressive amount of power, per Reuters' Richard Martin:

Valverde was sacked in January after a Spanish Super Cup defeat to Atletico Madrid, despite leading the side to back-to-back La Liga titles. Consecutive UEFA Champions League exits from winning positions against Roma and Liverpool were held against the tactician, who was seemingly on thin ice throughout the first half of the season.

Xavi was one of the candidates linked with the job, but according to Abidal, the Blaugrana never offered it to him:

SPORT English @Sport_EN

Abidal: We didn't make Xavi a contract offer https://t.co/vtMTDFOztV

Barcelona instead went with Setien, who had been out of a job since departing Real Betis in May. The Blaugrana have won four of five matches under the new boss since, but they have struggled to generate chances and were badly exposed by Valencia in a 2-1 defeat in La Liga.  


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