Former Barcelona left-back and sporting director, Eric Abidal has refuted suggestions that he has to mend his relationship with the club's icon, Lionel Messi following his decision to sack Ernesto Valverde as manager despite suggestions that the Argentinian wanted him to remain at the Nou Camp.
The Frenchman had been the club’s sporting director during the Valverde era, but was subsequently sacked after Barcelona suffered a humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League when the Catalan's were under the stewardship of Quique Setien.
Controversy broke out when Abidal went on to suggest that certain players were not working hard enough, which led Messi to ask the Frenchman for names of the players. This did not go down well with the players, but Abidal still maintains that he was right, while not going on to explicitly state that the squad wanted him out.
“I think I was correct. They needed to train harder in my opinion. In my time with Guardiola, it was ‘you want the best? Ok, you have to train like the best. You will win everything, only if you do the job during the week’. This is what I said. I never said the players wanted to get rid of the coach," he told Telegraph.
“Messi spoke to me personally as well. We had a strong conversation, but I can accept it. No problem because you have to be transparent. I was very comfortable because he was the only player who talked to me like this, the only one. I respect that. I also understand Messi is the captain and he wanted to defend the squad, but I never said that Messi told me to put the coach out. Never.
"I don’t have to fix anything with Messi, our relationship has not changed from my point of view. From his point of view, I don’t know, but, for me, the situation is over. We have exchanged many messages and he knows what I think. I didn’t want to turn a small situation into a global situation and put the whole club in trouble.”
Abidal and Messi played together for six seasons at the Nou Camp, winning a number of trophies as team-mates, with the Frenchman making 193 appearances during his time as a player.