Diego Simeone Responds to Messi-Setien Feud Rumours Ahead of Barca v Atletico Clash

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Messi is said to have a sour relationship with multiple members of Barcelona's staff | LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

Diego Simeone tried to sidestep questions relating to the rumoured rift between Lionel Messi and Quique Setien, and stressed the importance of keeping his squad happy.

Barcelona take on Atletico Madrid in a crucial game at Camp Nou that could go a long way to deciding the outcome of the LaLiga championship, with the spotlight currently on the hosts for all the wrong reasons.

Simeone and his side certainly have had mixed emotions this season, losing to third-tier Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey but stunning Liverpool at Anfield to knock out the defending champions in the round-of-16.

“You know me, I don’t give my opinion on what’s going on in other dressing rooms,” Simeone told a news conference on Monday.

“I just make an opinion on ours. We need to keep it protected, always take care of it and always manage the feeling of the players, which is the most important for a squad.

“The most important thing is to manage, in my team, the emotional part, which I consider to be the key part. I wouldn’t tell you (how to solve Barcelona’s problems), and I would try to solve it naturally in our camp, which is the dressing room or the training session.

“A cup of coffee could also be there in any informal chat that could help for solving any internal issue.”

Barcelona can still win the title – they lie second in the table, two points behind Real Madrid with six to play – but talk of friction between the players and coaching staff, and speculation surrounding Quique Setien’s future as manager.

Rumours of a poor relationship between star forward Lionel Messi and assistant coach Eder Sarabia resurfaced at the weekend with the Argentine striker appearing to ignore instructions from Setien’s No2.