Monday , February 17 2020

Eric Abidal casts doubt on Lionel Messi’s future at Barcelona amid pair’s public spat

‘We’re talking about the best player in the world… a renewal is never easy’: Eric Abidal casts doubt on Lionel Messi’s Barcelona future amid pair’s public spat over sacking of manager Ernesto Valverde

  • Barcelona chief Eric Abidal admits getting Lionel Messi to stay is ‘never easy’
  • The Argentinian was involved in a public spat with Abidal in recent weeks
  • Messi took issue with Abidal’s comments that stars got Ernesto Valverde sacked  
  • The 32-year-old has since been linked to a shock exit with Man City interested 

Eric Abidal has confessed that agreeing a contract extension to keep Lionel Messi at Barcelona is ‘never easy’ as tension remains in the air following the pair’s public spat last week. 

Messi and Abidal’s spectacular fall-out came after the latter suggested that members of the squad were responsible for Ernesto Valverde losing his job last month.

That has raised questions over the future of the Barcelona captain at the Nou Camp and with interest from Manchester City among a host of other teams, Abidal has admitted that agreeing a new deal brings with it complications.  

Doubt has been cast over whether Lionel Messi will sign a new contract with Barcelona

Club chief Eric Abidal admits it is 'never easy' to get such a talented player to stay at the club

Club chief Eric Abidal admits it is ‘never easy’ to get such a talented player to stay at the club

‘The question is for him, hopefully it continues,’ Abidal told Mundo Deportivo.

‘Leo said that Barca is everything for him, that he wants to stay here, from there there are conditions.

‘We are talking about the best player in the world and having a renewal with such a player is never easy.’

Messi’s current deal, said to be worth £25.5million per year, is set to expire at the end of the 2020-21 season and the Argentinian star is free to leave in the summer if he is unhappy at the club.

Sporting director Eric Abidal's angered former team-mate Messi in a recent interview

Sporting director Eric Abidal’s angered former team-mate Messi in a recent interview

Messi, 32, is more likely to use his contractual freedom to his benefit, with presidential elections probable in the summer and candidates going out of their way to make changes that will keep him at the club.

Changes that will include another attempt to re-sign the Brazilian, Neymar.

It’s understood president Bartomeu spoke to Messi before his meeting with Abidal and that tensions at the club have eased.  

Messi’s irritation was made public on his Instagram page having taken issue with insinuations from Abidal that star players helped see Valverde sacked. 

The Argentine took to Instagram on Tuesday to respond to claims made by Abidal in an interview that ‘many players were not satisfied’ with Valverde.

Messi posted: ‘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.

Messi (left) hit back at claims Barcelona's players were behind Ernesto Valverde's sacking

Messi (left) hit back at claims Barcelona’s players were behind Ernesto Valverde’s sacking

‘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.’

Talk of a move to Manchester City was put to manager Pep Guardiola but he dismissed the talk, predicting that Messi will end his career at Barcelona. 

City officials have always felt they would be in pole position to land Messi if he were ever to leave Barcelona but Guardiola distanced them from making a move.

‘It’s a player from Barcelona, he will stay there. That is my wish for him. Stay in Barcelona,’ Guardiola said.

‘I am not going to talk about a player from another club. I think he is going to finish his career in Barcelona.’

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has distanced himself from making a move for Messi

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has distanced himself from making a move for Messi