The frustrations at Barcelona are beginning to bubble over.
Barcelona has already endured a rare midseason managerial change, and Tuesday brought the latest development: Lionel Messi calling out sporting director–and former teammate–Eric Abidal for public comments made regarding the decision to fire Ernesto Valverde and the club's performance, specifically certain unnamed players who weren't working hard enough.
In an interview with Spanish outlet Sport, Abidal claimed that Barcelona started looking into replacements for Valverde after the Dec. 18 Clasico, which finished scoreless.
"We watched the games and not the results, but how we played, the tactics, the work of the players who don't play a lot. I'm focused on those details," Abidal said. "Many players weren't satisfied or working a lot and there was also an internal communication problem. The relationship between the coach and the dressing room has always been good but there are things as an ex-player that I could smell. I told the club what I thought and we reached a decision.'
Messi took issue with the lack of accountability on Abidal's part–and his claim that players weren't working enough–posting the following to his Instagram Stories:
Abidal also had commented on Messi's contract status with Barcelona, which has publicly stated it plans to keep the Argentine maestro put for the duration of his career. His current deal runs through next season.
"Leo can say that he's staying but there are things to negotiate within the contract. Two, three or more years of contract. Negotiations have started with the president and Oscar Grau and the idea is to sign a longer deal than one that gets renewed every year," said Abidal.
"I am (optimistic). We have the best player in the world and we shouldn't lose him. We have to be optimistic. I think Messi is happy here, he's enjoying his job. He's showing his best level, breaking records. We as a club want to make him happier. And for that we have to give him the best teammates, improve the team each year and have the chance of winning titles.
"We'll try to do it well and I think we'll reach a deal with Leo. He knows that Barca need him."
Messi's response comes on the same day that Barcelona ruled Ousmane Dembele out for what should be the rest of the season. With the club trailing Real Madrid in La Liga and set to return to Champions League play this month in the round of 16 vs. Napoli, things are getting awfully touchy at Camp Nou.