There is a crisis brewing at Barcelona, as behind the scenes disagreements have now deteriorated into public confrontations.
This week, Barcelona sporting director, Eric Abidal, claimed some of the club's players did work hard enough under former manager, Ernesto Valverde, because they were not happy with him.
Valverde was sacked on 13 January after a string of poor results, including a 3-2 loss to Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals of the Super Cup, with Quique Setien replacing him.
While addressing the issue in an interview on Tuesday with Catalan newspaper, Abidal claimed “lots of players were not satisfied [with Valverde] and nor did they work a lot” and that h started to look for a replacement for the coach after the El Classico in December.
“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,” the ex-Barcelona left-back added.
Following the publication of the interview, Messi has now reacted to his former teammate blaming the players for the sack of Valverde while also asking him to take responsibility for his decisions.
The Barcelona captain also challenged the Frenchman to mention names instead of tarnishing the reputations of the players.
Posting a screenshot of the interview on Instagram, Messi denied the accusations, saying: “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.”
Last Summer, Messi admitted he wanted the club to bring back Brazil star, Neymar, but they failed to do so, with the 32-year-old stating that he wasn't sure they did all they could to make the move happen.
Abidal's position was already under review following the way the search for Valverde's replacement was handled and now it seems it is most likely he will leave.
Messi, on his part, had a clause in his contract which could allow him to walk away for free at the end of the season, something the Blaugranas would most likely not want to happen.