Barcelona's Eric Abidal Says He's Learned Issues Should Be Handled 'Internally'

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2020

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 14: Sports Director of FC Barcelona Eric Abidal looks on during the New FC Barcelona head coach Quique Setien unveiling at Camp Nou on January 14, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal said he has learned from his public dispute with Lionel Messi earlier in February and will deal with any issues in-house from now on.

Messi hit back at Abidal on social media after he suggested the players did not put enough work in under Ernesto Valverde, who was sacked as manager in January:

B/R Football @brfootball

Lionel Messi hits out at Barcelona's Sporting Director and former team-mate Eric Abidal 👀 https://t.co/8FCBU48YE5

Per ASJavier Miguel, Abidal said on Thursday: "I've learned a lot of things during the past few days. Internal issues have to be resolved internally and not through the media."

Abidal is a former team-mate of Messi's, but the Argentinian was evidently angry at his criticism of the players.

It seems he's still unhappy about the episode, based on an interview published in Mundo Deportivo on Thursday:

The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast

"It annoyed me that someone at the club would put the players in the middle of a sacking like that, it seemed crazy to me. It's him who takes decisions and has to take responsibility. That's why I spoke out. I couldn't allow the sporting director to attack me in that way."

The Frenchman spoke on Thursday at the unveiling of new striker Martin Braithwaite, whom Barcelona were allowed to recruit as an emergency signing after Ousmane Dembele was ruled out for six months after hamstring surgery earlier in February.

Barca are also without Luis Suarez after he had knee surgery in January.

Abidal defended the squad, per Marca's Alejandro Segura:

"You can talk about a small squad, but there are injured players. If Dembele wasn't injured, we wouldn't be here.

"We can't control [Carles] Alena because he wanted to be loaned out, just like other players, and always after speaking with the coach.

"I don't talk about the number of players; the important thing is their quality."

It is not the fault of the players, but the club's squad planning this season has left much to be desired.

Football author Colin Millar was among many to take issue with La Liga's decision to allow them to make an emergency signing, given their decisions during the January transfer window:

Colin Millar @Millar_Colin

This entire episode comes about because Barcelona made a total mess of their squad planning, and willingly sold two young forwards - without replacements - less than three weeks ago. Now Leganes are punished. This is just wrong. So, so wrong.

Suarez underwent surgery on January 12, so the club were not caught unawares by his absence late in the window.

However, rather than keep the options they had or bring in a replacement then, Barca banked on the fitness of Dembele, who had been out of action since November with a hamstring injury.

Given the Frenchman's injury record at the Camp Nou, it was a hefty gamble that he'd return and remain fit for the rest of the season:

B/R Football @brfootball

Played: 74 Missed: 65—and counting Ousmane Dembele has had it rough 🤕 https://t.co/UN4rouiHvK

The club now have Braithwaite, whom Abidal is hopeful can be "decisive," to call upon.

He has eight goals and one assist to his name this season in 27 matches in all competitions.

The Dane had scored six of Leganes' 18 goals in La Liga. Leganes are 19th in the Spanish top flight, two points from safety.