BARCELONA

Abidal continues at Barcelona but with a further weakened position

After meeting with Barça president Bartomeu, the sporting director was told that he maintains his role, but the faith has disappeared further.

Abidal continues at Barcelona but with a further weakened position
RODOLFO MOLINA DIARIO AS

Eric Abidal remains as Barcelona's sporting director, but his position in that role has been weakened by the situation this week.

Abidal: Barcelona sporting director in name

The image of the former French player as director at the Catalan club had already been tarnished long before the situation with Lionel Messi occurred this week. Josep Maria Bartomeu, the Barça president, had already passed up the advice of his employee last June when, after the loss in the Copa del Rey final, he proposed the dismissal of Ernesto Valverde as manager. He understood at that point what he meant to Bartomeu, just as he was to former president Joan Laporta when he recruited him for the 2015 election campaign. Abidal was a name to help the cause.

But times change and Abidal has grown into the role, claiming his share of the power. After being ignored in the Valverde affair initially, he insisted on removing the coach and began a campaign of interviewing for a replacement. He admitted in the recent interview with Sport that he spoke to Xavi, Pochettino and Henry about the soon-to-be-vacant role in the Camp Nou dugout. This, just a few days after the president had stated that Setién had been positively assessed for months.

FC Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, speaks with Eric Abidal amid recent comments.

FC Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, speaks with Eric Abidal amid recent comments.

On Sunday, Bartomeu met with Abidal at the Camp Nou. The Frenchman was upset because the club had not given him the power to sign the much needed striker, with no one coming in to cover the Luis-Suárez shaped hole in the Barça attack. Bartomeu reinforced Abidal's role, but only in an artificial way. He no longer believed in him, but he planned to wait it out until the end of the season before dismissing him. What Bartomeu could not have expected, or maybe he could, is that Abidal would open fire publicly on Xavi and Valverde, and put the players in a bad light. Messi's response refocused the glare onto Abidal.

So Abidal has, to all intents and purposes, already gone. Bartomeu, though, has chosen to take a conservative approach, but a Copa defeat in San Mamés on Thursday could intensify the current crisis Barça are dealing with.