Barcelona star Lionel Messi has hit out at the club’s sporting director Eric Abidal following claims the players were not working hard.
Former France international defender Abidal – who is now operating as the club’s transfer chief – made the claims on Tuesday, hitting out at the work ethic of the players.
He claimed that such a situation made the position of previous Blaugrana boss Ernesto Valverde untenable – and he was dismissed following their defeat in the Spanish Supercopa last month.
The timing may have raised eyebrows with Barca then top of the league and also safely through to the Round of 16 in the Champions League.
Under Valverde, the Catalan giants had won each of the previous two La Liga titles but had suffered two traumatic exits from Europe’s premier club competition.
Quique Setien subsequently replaced Valverde in the Camp Nou hotseat.
“Many players weren't satisfied or working hard and there was also an internal communication problem,” Abidal told Diario Sport.
“The relationship between the Coach and the dressing room has always been good but there are things as an ex-player that I could smell. I told the club what I thought and we reached a decision (on sacking Valverde).”
Argentine star Messi responded on Instagram, writing: “When you talk about players, you have to give names because if not, it gives air to things which are not true.
“Sincerely, I don't like to do these things but I think that people have to be responsible for their jobs and own their decisions.
“The players [are responsible] for what happens on the pitch and we are the first to admit when we haven't been good. The heads of the sports department have to take their responsibilities too and above all own the decisions they make.”