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Messi hits back at club director who criticized players

(AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi hit back at Barcelona’s sports director Eric Abidal on Tuesday after he criticized the players’ efforts.

Messi used his Instagram account to publish a text attacking Abidal for his criticism and saying the former player and other club directors should take responsibility for their recent decisions.

“Honestly, I don’t like to do this kind of thing, but I think everyone has to be responsible for their roles and take responsibility for their decisions,” Messi posted on an Instagram story. “We (players) are the first to acknowledge when we don’t play well. Those in charge of the sports department also have to be held accountable for their responsibilities and, above all, for their decisions.”

The rare public attack by Messi came after the Spanish daily Sport published an interview in which Abidal said “many players were not satisfied and didn’t work hard” under coach Ernesto Valverde, who was replaced by Quique Setién in the beginning of the year.

Messi highlighted that quote from Abidal on his Instagram story. The two were teammates until the Frenchman left Barcelona in 2013.

“Lastly, I think that when you talk about players, you should name them," Messi said. "Otherwise, you are tainting all of us and helping spread rumors that are not true.”

The club did not immediately respond to Messi's comments.

Barcelona hasn't been playing well since Valverde was replaced by Setién. It lost the Spanish league lead to Real Madrid and was almost eliminated by third-division club Ibiza in the Copa del Rey. Its next game is Thursday at Athletic Bilbao in the quarterfinals of the Copa.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Updated February 4, 2020

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