Barcelona boss Quique Setien has played down issues off the pitch at the club and insists he is ‘only interested in the football’.
The club’s sporting director Eric Abidal hit out at the work ethic of the club’s players in interviews with Diario Sport and El Mundo Deportivo on Tuesday, saying that was a major reason he decided to dismiss Ernesto Valverde last month.
Club captain Lionel Messi then responded on Instagram, challenging Abidal to ‘name names’ and appearing to open up a rupture within the club.
“These issues don't affect me, and more importantly, I try to make sure they don't affect my players,” Setien told reporters, as cited by Marca.
“We spoke about it for a few minutes but that was it. I am only interested in the football and at any club of this size, there will be issues that are beyond my control.
“Leo (Messi) had been in good spirts, he is training as normal and is smiling – he is the same as he has been since I have seen him.
“I do not want to get involved with personalities or how players speak, I am not their father and it is their responsibility, it is what they control.”
Setien was then asked if he had any regrets about his decision to take over at the club last month, replacing the dismissed Ernesto Valverde.
Other candidates such as Xavi Hernandez and Ronald Koeman turned down the role, while long-term injuries for Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele have further complicated the situation.
“Of course I do not (hold regrets),” added the Coach.
“When you do not have a job like this you have no problems but my life has never been easy, and you expect problems to be magnified when you are at a job with this stature.
“I am convinced we as a club can continue to move forward.”
The situation on the pitch for the Catalan giants has worsened in recent times with the news that star attacking players Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele are unlikely to return to action this season due to injuries.
The club sold youth graduates Carles Perez and Abel Ruiz last month as their attacking numbers have dwindled, leaving their squad stretched for the final three months of the campaign.