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Setien refuses to be dragged into Messi-Abidal argument

By AFP |   05 February 2020   |   3:45 pm  

FILE PHOTO: Barcelona defender Eric Abidal (R) embraces teammate Lionel Messi after a goal against Atletico Madrid during their Spanish first division soccer match at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona February 5, 2011. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino/File Photo

Barcelona coach Quique Setien said on Wednesday he would not comment on the controversy between forward Lionel Messi and sporting director Eric Abidal.

Messi hit back at Abidal on Tuesday after the Frenchman had earlier blamed slackness in the dressing room for the departure of recently-fired boss Ernesto Valverde.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper Sport, Abidal said under Valverde, who was fired in mid-January, many players had been unhappy, had not worked hard enough and had not communicated properly.

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“I’m not going to get into Messi’s life or anyone’s life,” said Setien, who replaced Valverde.

“What interests me is football, everything else is situations that I will not be able to control therefore I do not sweat on it,” the 61-year-old added.

Setien denied he had spoken individually to the Argentina attacker about the incident but said it had been briefly discussed in a training session by the squad.

Messi signed his last contract extension in 2017, with his current deal running through to next year but reportedly containing a clause that could allow him to quit Barcelona in June.

The former Real Betis boss said Messi’s behaviour remained the same despite the falling out with Abidal.

“I have seen him smiling, I have seen him looking happy, he loves to come to training, he loves to be here and I have seen him just like he was yesterday or the day before yesterday,” Setien said.

Setien said his only focus was Thursday’s Copa del Rey quarter-final tie at Athletic Bilbao.

“The importance of tomorrow’s match, the obligation we have is to focus totally and absolutely on the match,” Setien said.

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