In an interview with Sport on Monday, Abidal claimed that some Barca players were no satisfied with the former coach’s appointment and did not work hard under Valverde. He added that there was also a communication issue between the Spaniard and the players.
According to the club chief, Barcelona players were unhappy with Valverde’s methods and this led to the Catalan giants’ struggle this season. Abidal said he made his feelings known to the board and clearly felt a change was needed which led to the exit of the manager.
“A lot of players were not happy and did not work much and there was also a problem with internal communication,” he told Sport.
“The relationship between the coach and dressing room was always good, but there are things that as an ex-player I can sense. I told the club what I thought and we had to make a decision.”
However, in an Instagram post on Tuesday, Messi accused Abidal of falsehood and misrepresentation. He insisted that each member of the football club must be responsible for their tasks and take care of their decisions.
The club captain also asked Abidal to “give names” after the latter criticised the club’s players over their work ethic. Messi also felt Abidal’s decision to go public was an error given how he had spoken for each individual player.
Messi wrote: “I honestly don’t like doing these things but I think everyone has to be responsible for their tasks and take care of their decisions.
“The players [have to be responsible for] what happens on the pitch and we are the first to recognize it when we did not do things well.
“Those responsible off the pitch must also assume their responsibilities and above all take responsibility for their decisions (…) I think when he [Abidal] talks about players, he has to give names because if not he is tarnishing everyone and fueling speculation that is not true.”
Messi’s shock response to Abidal’s comments come just a day after it was reported that two Barcelona players were involved in a dressing room bust-up on Tuesday at the end of a morning training session. According to reports, the two players squared up to each other over claims of showboating in training.
According to AS, one of the players had dribbled the other in a training match and tried to dribble him again but the victim thought he was trying to humiliate him in the presence of the other players. He, however, confronted the other player after the end of the session which led to a shouting competition.
The report added that the dressing room was tensed up which reduced the mood of the training session. It was learned that other players intervened in the bust-up before it got out of control and calmed the two players down. Also, the players themselves restored sanity after the incident.
AS claim that a row between two teammates was as a result of bottled tension since the sack of former manager Ernesto Valverde in January. The report added that this has created some divisions in the dressing room. Also, the winter departures of some players and lack of adequate replacement brought in made it worse.
Some senior players have also accused others of dropping their game level under Valverde which led to the exit of the Spaniard. These players are not happy because they believed in the former coach who had won two league titles in two seasons and had the side top of the table.
The report also noted that the players have stopped observing their traditional pre-match huddle in their warm-up in the last two matches. Team captains, Lionel Messi and Gerrard Piqué usually encourage and motivate the team during this huddle ahead of any game.