Barcelona players underwent a tense training session on Wednesday on the eve of their Copa del Rey quarter-final tie at Athletic Bilbao.
Lionel Messi’s decision to hit back after sporting director Eric Abidal’s controversial interview has caused tension within the camp but manager Quique Setien refused to comment, focusing on the match ahead.
Messi took exception to former team-mate Abidal’s interview in which he said players did not work hard enough under recently-fired boss Ernesto Valverde.
In the interview with Sport, Abidal said under Valverde many players were unhappy and did not communicate properly. Messi, in turn, said the club’s hierarchy should take responsibility for the sacking of Valverde.
“I’m not going to get into Messi’s life, or anyone’s life,” Setien, who replaced Valverde, said.
“What interests me is football, everything else are situations that I will not be able to control therefore I do not sweat on it,” he added.
Setien said the incident was discussed during training by the squad. Setien said Messi’s behaviour was normal despite the spat.
“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.
The manager said his only focus was Thursday’s clash at Athletic Bilbao.
“The importance of tomorrow’s match, the obligation we have is to focus totally and absolutely on the match,” he said.
Barca take on Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey quarter-final on Thursday.