Eric Abidal (L) Lionel Messi (R)
Eric Abidal (L) Lionel Messi (R)

Following Barcelona's sporting director Eric Abidal's comment over Ernesto Valverde sacking, Lionel Messi publicly called out the former accusing him of tampering with players reputation.

In an interview with the Catalan newspaper Sport, Abidal said "lots of players were not satisfied with Valverde and nor did they work a lot."

'There was also an issue of internal communication. The relationship manager-dressing room has always been good but there are things, as a former player, I can smell. I told the club what I thought and that I thought a decision had to be made," he added.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner demanded that Abidal should also take responsibility for his own decisions. Earlier, Abidal said he had started looking for potential managers who could replace Valverde. After speculations of Xavi or Ronald Koeman taking the job, the managerial role was handed to Quique Setien who previously managed La Liga side Real Betis.

Reacting to Abidal's comments, Messi took to Instagram posting a picture of Abidal's interview. In support of his teammates, Messi said, "Honestly, I don’t like doing these things but I think that everyone has to be responsible for his acts and take responsibility for their own decisions."

"The players are responsible for what happens on the pitch, and we have been the first to recognise when we were not good. The people in the sporting directorate should also assume their responsibility and above all take ownership of the decisions they make.

"Finally, I think that when players are talked about, names should be given because, if not, we are all being dirtied and it feeds comments that are made and are not true."

Following the spat between Barcelona's greatest asset and its sporting director, will the crisis deepen? The club has failed to add efficient players to the squad after injury of key players Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele who have been ruled out till the final weeks of the season, more or less.

Messi had earlier admitted his desire for the club to bring back Neymar, which they could not. "I don’t know if they did everything they could," he said.

In January's transfer window, Barcelona sold two forwards Carlos Pérez and Abel Ruiz but failed to bring in any replacements.

Messi's current contract with the club has a clause which allows him to decide at the end of each season if he wants to continue or not.

According to Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero, Abidal is set for a meeting with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, which will decide the Frenchman's future at the club.

On the professional front, Barcelona will play against Athletic Bilbao in Copa Del Rey quarter-finals on Thursday (Friday 1:30 AM IST).

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