Another day, another crisis at Barcelona.
Lionel Messi has hit back at Eric Abidal for claiming players were not working hard enough under previous manager Ernesto Valverde, taking to Instagram to berate the club’s sporting director for failing to take responsibility.
It’s unclear as yet whether Abidal will keep his job having alienated the Argentine.
Either way, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the latest flashpoint is not an isolated incident but one that speaks of deeper unrest at Camp Nou.
Since Valverde’s sacking earlier this season, a picture has emerged of the mistrust between the players and the board, Messi’s spat with Abidal proving just how bad the situation has got.
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Marca claim it is the six-time Ballon d’Or winner who is particularly upset, showing his “hot-headed” side both on the pitch (he recently refused to take part in the team huddle vs Valencia) and on the training ground.
Messi felt targeted by Abidal because he feels that when players are blamed for not performing, he is usually the one under the spotlight despite having arguably saved Valverde’s job on numerous occasions.
The majority of players – with the exceptions of Sergio Busquets, Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic – liked playing under Valverde, the aforementioned trio standing out for wanting him replaced.
The club’s change in manager brought further problems.
As a result of Valverde’s popularity, players were angry with the board.
In turn, president Josep Maria Bartomeu was unhappy with Abidal for failing to land Barca legend Xavi. It was well-known that Quique Setién was not first choice, especially as Abidal met with Xavi in Qatar and still couldn’t convince him to take the job.
That wasn’t his only shortcoming either, declining to sign a striker in January to replace the injured Luis Suarez – even when it became clear that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was keen on a move.
None of the captains were willing to attend a press conference to mark the retirement of Barcelona handball star Victor Tomas, which was seen as an important event for the club.
It all leaves a “minefield of distrust” surrounding the dressing room.
The end of last season and the turmoil of the current campaign have opened wounds which it will take time to heal.