It never rains but it pours.
Not only have Barcelona got some serious injury concerns to attend to, the long-term absences of Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele being the main two, but in-fighting threatens to overwhelm the club at the most important time of the season.
Rarely, if ever, does Lionel Messi break cover to say anything even mildly controversial, so we can infer much from his words last Tuesday.“I honestly do not like doing these things, but I think everyone has to be responsible for their tasks and take care of their decisions,” Messi posted on Instagram, with a screenshot of an article from Sport that contained Abidal’s comments.
“The players are responsible for what happens on the pitch and we are also the first to recognise when we’re not doing well.
“Those responsible for the sports management must also assume their responsibilities and, above all, take ownership of the decisions they make. Finally, I think that when talking about players, names should be given.
“Because if not then we are tarred with comments that are said and are not true.”
Frankly, it hung Messi’s former team-mate out to dry, but in context it’s clearly the final straw from a group of players that are fed up with their paymasters.
Not so long ago, Gerard Pique was ready to fight when he inferred that the players knew exactly who was leaking stories about them to the press, and that he wouldn’t be backwards in coming forwards if the board wanted a war of words.
Pathetic sporting decisions, transfers that weren’t necessary and others that couldn’t get over the line but were clearly needed…
Allowing La Masia players to leave en masse over the last few seasons, despite hanging a two-tier banner from the stands telling others to keep their hands off…
Those and many other issues have finally taken their toll and when Messi speaks, everyone listens. That’s why this entire scenario has garnered so much interest.
Though it surely would’ve been far better for the captain to have kept his views in-house, perhaps such an outburst has been needed for some while now.
There can be no middle ground to what he said either. His words were chosen carefully, he knew where to aim them and it had, and is having, the desired effect.
A trophy laden end to the season was expected at the beginning of the campaign, but no one really expects that now.
Whether Messi, his colleagues or the supporters pin that on Abi too, we’ll find out at the end of the campaign.