Barcelona manager Quique Setien has refused to be drawn into the ongoing squabble between Lionel Messi and Eric Abidal, insisting:
‘I have no time for such problems and I only focus on football.’
Messi hit out at claims made by Abidal, the club’s sporting director, in an interview earlier this week that a number of players ‘were not satisfied and did not work hard’ under Ernesto Valverde before he was sacked.
The Argentine superstar responded on Instagram, telling Abidal to give names of those who supposedly downed tools. The row has left Abidal at serious risk of losing his job with crunch talks planned with president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
When asked about the impact the incident has had on his preparation for the game, Setien said:
‘I focus on football. All I’m interested in is getting the best out of these players. There are things I can’t control and I’m not interested in them.
‘We talked about the problems of the team for one minute only, because the most important thing is the team and football. I will not waste my energy on other things.
‘There are problems in every club that cannot be controlled but do not talk to me about them, this does not matter to me. I focus on my work only. I have no time for such problems and I only focus on football.
‘I will try my best to assure that what happened between Messi and Abidal does not affect the team.
‘He (Messi) has the experience and the know-how to decide what he has to do. I’m not going to tell Messi how to live his life – or anyone else, for that matter. My job is to make sure they come into work happy. The rest isn’t down to me.’
Setien was dealt a major blow on Tuesday when winger Ousmane Dembele suffered yet another injury setback.
The Frenchman has been out of action since November with a hamstring issue but further testing showed that the diagnosis was worse than first feared and his 2019-20 season appears to be over.
Barcelona initially tweeted on Monday that the 22-year-old suffered ‘some discomfort in his right leg’ before later clarifying a more serious issue.
The Catalan giants are already without Luis Suarez but do have the option to sign an emergency player from Spain or a free agent if they can prove Dembele’s injury is season-ending.
Speaking about the chance of bringing somebody in, Setien added:
‘I am waiting for the final medical tests. After analysing all the information, we will make decisions.
‘I was sure that Dembele would add a lot. His injury is an unfortunate thing and the only solution is to confront this problem.
‘If we cannot sign a replacement for Dembele, we will give our everything with what we have.’