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‘We shouldn’t throw sh*t at ourselves’: Alba wades into Messi-Abidal row as ructions threaten to derail Barcelona’s season

‘We shouldn’t throw sh*t at ourselves’: Alba wades into Messi-Abidal row as ructions threaten to derail Barcelona’s season
Barcelona defender Jordi Alba says figures at the club should “stop throwing sh*t at ourselves” after an ugly public spat between Lionel Messi and sporting director Eric Abidal.

Abidal, who spent six years at Barca as a player before taking over as sporting director, recently accused some members of the team of not working hard enough under ex-manager Ernesto Valverde, signaling that player power had been a factor in Valverde’s dismissal last month.

Messi reacted angrily to the claims, issuing a rare statement on social media in which he said Abidal, 40, should name names or risk tarring the entire squad with the same brush.

RT

The Barca skipper was backed by teammate Alba, who said: "This club gets enough sh*t thrown at it from the outside so we shouldn't be throwing shit at ourselves.

"Abidal was a player, he is loved by the fans and that's why he should know what it's like inside the dressing room and how players feel."

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The left-back was speaking after Barca's shock 1-0 Copa del Rey quarter-final defeat at Athletic Bilbao on Thursday night. 

Teammate Gerard Pique, who like Alba is a senior member of the Barca squad, also urged unity after the defeat to Bilbao.  

"It's not the time to dig up dirt, which all clubs have," Pique said.

"What I can say is that our confidence is at its highest, we're happy with the way we've played and reacted to the outside noise.”

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Abidal held on to his job as sporting director despite the discontent his comments have caused within the ranks – not least with Messi, who yields considerable clout given his iconic stature at the club.

Speculation has intensified in recent days that Messi could even quit the club in the summer, with a host of big-name suitors on alert across Europe.  

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The bitter row has also marred Quique Setien’s early tenure as Valverde’s replacement.

Barcelona crashed out of the Copa del Rey – a competition they won four times in a row before being beaten finalists last season – after a late Sergio Busquets own goal against Bilbao on Thursday night.

It was a game they had dominated in terms of possession and chances, and afterwards Setien said that despite the result “everything went well.”

"We have taken a step forward in terms of what we have to improve," Setien said.

"It is the same as ever; there are days when you have one chance and put it in, and there are days where you have ten and can't do it...

“Everything went well, except for the result. I am happy with the team's work."     

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Perhaps of bigger concern to Setien will be the ructions caused by the row between former teammates Messi and Abidal, as well as the three-point gap to Real Madrid at the top of the La Liga table.

Barca failed to bring in a new striker during the January transfer window, with Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele both out injured for significant periods.

Next up for the Catalans is a trip to Real Betis in the league on Sunday evening.

Elsewhere in the Copa del Rey on Thursday, Real Madrid were dumped out at the Bernabeu in a seven-goal thriller against Real Sociedad.

Sociedad midfielder Martin Odegaard – on loan from Real Madrid – opened the scoring for the visitors, who led 3-0 and 4-1 before Real pulled two late goals back through Rodrygo and Nacho as the game ended 4-3 to Sociedad. 

It was the first time in 65 years that Real and fellow giants Barcelona have been knocked out of the competition on the same day, according to ESPN, while it will also be the first time since 2010 that neither Real nor Barca have reached the final of the tournament.

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