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Lionel Messi Reopens Row With Eric Abidal

Messi Priceless

Lionel Messi has revisited his argument with Eric Abidal by admitting that he responded to his former team-mate’s criticism because he ‘felt attacked’.

The pair’s spectacular fall-out came after Abidal suggested that members of the squad were responsible for Ernesto Valverde losing his job last month.

The row led to questions whether Messi’s time at the Nou Camp was coming to an end as Manchester City and other clubs monitored his situation.

However, in an interview with Mundo Deportivo, Messi put Barca supporters’ minds at ease by insisting that leaving the Nou Camp hasn’t cross his mind while he questioned Abidal’s initial comments.

‘I don’t know what went through his head to say that,’ Messi said. ‘I responded because I felt attacked. I felt that he was attacking the players.

‘Too many things are already said about the dressing room, like that we control everything, that we choose the players and [what happens to] the coaches; and [it’s said] about me especially: that I have lots of power and decide things.’

The Barcelona skipper also denied the accusations that he runs the club – something he has also been accused of doing while in the national team.

Abidal’s comments ‘hurt’ and ‘annoyed’ Messi, before insisting that he couldn’t let someone ‘attack me in that way’.

‘It’s said a lot that I take decisions, that I run [the club], and that’s not true,’ he added.

‘I don’t know why [that gets said]. But it has been proven, I think, that I have my opinion and the club has its opinion and a lot of the time they are not the same and they don’t do what I say.’

The row cast plenty of doubt over Messi’s future at the club but leaving has never really been an option, he says.

‘I have said lots of times that my idea is [to never leave Barcelona], and as long as the club wants it, there won’t ever be a problem,’ Messi added.

‘Many times, I’ve had the chance to leave the club, there have been lots of clubs interested, clubs prepared to pay the buy-out clause, but it never occurred to me to leave and it doesn’t now either.

‘[But] I have also said many times that I would like the club to be in good shape, for the fans to be happy with the team we have, for there to be a winning project and for us to continue being candidates to win trophies like we always were.

‘I want to win another Champions League, I want to keep winning league titles.’

Messi also believes he and his team-mates are quite a way off from winning another Champions League trophy as they continue to make ‘silly mistakes’.

The prolific forward has questioned the team’s reliability when facing Europe’s elite.

‘We must not obsess over what happened to us in Rome or Liverpool, where we are leaving the game and it seems that we disconnect and what happens to us happens,’ Messi explains.

‘We must handle all the details because in the Champions League every detail condemns you and we have to try to reach one hundred percent in everything to try to win.’

Messi also addressed why club president Josep Bartomeu denied accusations of unethical social media practices.

A Spanish radio station claimed the LaLiga champions hired a social media firm to criticise key figures associated with the Catalonia side in a bid to protect president Bartomeu’s reputation.

It was suggested I3 Ventures had been hired to publish stories that damaged the image of several players and ex-players, after they had criticised Bartomeu.

Messi claimed he will wait to see if there is any truth in the accusations after Bartomeu’s statement.

‘I was a little surprised because I was not present, I was travelling,’ Messi said.

‘When I arrived, I discovered it all bit by bit. The president told us the same things he said in public, the same things he said at a press conference: what was the situation, what had happened. And I cannot say more.

‘The truth is that I see weird things happening. But it was also said that there would be evidence. We will have to wait to see if it is true or not. We can’t say much and we have to wait and see what happens. Frankly, the subject seems strange to me.’