It all started in December when Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde was sacked, seemingly the decision had fallen to Eric Abidal an ex Barcelona player and now part of the set up at the Catalan giants. The handling was pardon the pun ‘messy’ and it has led to one of the all time great players in football and Barcelona legend Lionel Messi speaking out about the decision.
Abidal has claimed that the players were not playing their best under Valverde (even though they were 1st in the league and had only lost one game at home in 18 months). He then reportedly blamed the players saying that they wanted Valverde out. That was the final straw and Messi snapped. The same Messi who doesn’t snap, who does diplomacy and to be frank it has surprised many in the game.
He wants Abidal to name names if it is true that some players within the squad wanted Valverde out. There has been an ongoing joke that Messi has run the club for the past decade, deciding which coach the club should hire and which players should come in. But it is clear that even if he did have an influence he didn’t here and it is also clear that he very much liked Valverde.
Since Valverde was sacked and replaced by Quique Setien there has clearly been a drop in performance from Barca who have narrowly won games against Granada 1-0 and Levante 2-1 and lost to Valencia. In midweek they were knocked out of the Copa del Rey at the quarter final stage to Athletic Bilbao. This was deemed a shock although it was softened slightly as Real Madrid stole the headlines by losing at home 4-3 to Real Sociedad.
Now Messi has spoken out the media believe that this could be the beginning of the end for his one time career at Barcelona. Could he really move in the summer? Or will this all blow over? Could Eric Abidal be replaced to ease tensions? Most think that this could be the likely outcome.
Of course Messi has been linked to Manchester City on the one basis that his former coach Pep Guardiola is there. But the fact is Guardiola may not be at the club for more than a few seasons, what would Messi do then? It would be a bold and exciting move though, but Guardiola himself quashed that idea and insisted that Messi belongs in Barcelona and should end his career there.
Surely this can die down and Barcelona can get on with winning trophies? Though there is a chance that they could end the season empty handed. The fall out of the Abidal-Messi argument comes on the eve of the knock out stages of the Champions League starting up again. Also since Valverde was sacked Barcelona have lost top spot to Real Madrid with Zinedine Zidane’s team going three points clear, and of course Barca are out of the Spanish cup.
Can Setien get back control and steer the ship or will he be made to jump? The circus sadly for Barcelona and their fans seems like it is just beginning.
How well do you know European Football? Want to challenge the best Spanish Fantasy Managers? Play www.liga-fantasy.com now.