Barcelona defender Jordi Alba has waded in on the internal ructions at the club by criticising sporting director Eric Abidal.
Former France international defender 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.
“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).”
Club captain Lionel Messi then 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.”
Now Alba has told reporters that Abidal’s comments were damaging to the dressing room and that they already got enough criticism from outside the club, without more from those within it.
“This club gets enough hate thrown at it from the outside so we shouldn't be doing that to ourselves,” the full-back told reporters, as cited by El Mundo Deportivo.
“Abidal was a player here, he is loved by the fans and that's why he should know what it's like inside the dressing room and how players feel.
“We showed that we are a team and that's what we need to keep on doing, I think we put in a great performance, one of the best of the season.
“It's a real shame we conceded the goal so late but that's what football is like. I'm very proud of the team because of how well we played.”
A report in Marca claims Abidal will remain in his position and will travel to Bilbao with the team on Thursday night, while El Mundo Deportivo led their Thursday coverage with news that he would stay.
Marca cited Catalan radio station RAC1 as saying on Wednesday that Abidal was ‘on the verge of the abyss’ amid meeting the club’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Abidal has been at the club in a technical role since 2018 and assumed his position last summer with Ramon Planes as his deputy, after the departure of Pep Segura and the resignation of vice-president Jordi Mestre.