BARCELONA

Barcelona: senior players hold crisis talks after Messi, Abidal row

Barça skipper Lionel Messi spoke to vice-captains Sergio Busquets, Gerard Piqué and Sergi Roberto after his war of words with the club's sporting director.

Barcelona: senior players hold crisis talks after Messi, Abidal row

Senior Barcelona squad members held a crisis meeting on Wednesday morning in the wake of Lionel Messi's public war of words with the club's sporting director, Éric Abidal.

Players back Messi over response to Abidal remarks

Club skipper Messi spoke to vice-captains Sergio Busquets, Gerard Piqué and Sergi Roberto following his forthright social-media response to Abidal's claim in an interview with the newspaper Sport that some players "weren't working hard" under former Barça head coach Ernesto Valverde.

Messi hit back at the Frenchman in an Instagram post on Tuesday, writing: "I think that when someone mentions players, they should give names because if they don't, they are tarring everyone with the same brush and fuelling gossip - a lot of which is not true."

Messi's meeting with Busquets, Piqué and Roberto served to confirm that the Argentine has the complete backing of the squad over his public condemnation of Abidal's words. This includes the group's French contingent, despite their close rapport with their compatriot.

Abidal to hold clear-the-air talks with Barcelona president

Against this apparent breakdown of Abidal's relationship with the players, the sporting director is reportedly due for emergency talks with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, with speculation rife that the 40-year-old will leave his role.

Setién speaks to media after Messi, Abidal spat

Barcelona coach Quique Setién gave a press conference on Wednesday afternoon ahead of the Copa del Rey match against Athletic Club, where he said he wouldn't "tell Messi how to live his life" after the forward's row with Abidal.