Eric Abidal

Barcelona
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Barcelona denies using fake social media accounts to bash club legends

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Barcelona issued a lengthy denial of reports that it hired a public relations firm to bash some of its current players.

The PR firm has also denied the allegations in those reports, and the club is threatening legal action against those making the reports.

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Barcelona has been mired in turmoil this season, with director of football Eric Abidal clashing with Lionel Messi as the superstar striker contemplates a summer exit clause in his contract.

The club has also changed managers, and trails Real Madrid by a point for the table lead.

So of what has Barcelona been accused? For one, using a number of social media accounts to compliment current president Josep Maria Bartomeu and take shots at some massive names including current players Gerard Pique and Lionel Messi, as well as a certain famous ex-coach. From Marca:

According to a report by Que t’hi jugues, the company hired by the Catalan club manages up to almost 100 Twitter and Facebook accounts which have attacked individuals such as Messi, Xavi, Gerard Pique, Pep Guardiola, Carles Puyol, Joan Laporta and Carles Puigdemont.

Barca rejected this notion, claiming: “I3 Ventures, a service provider to the Club, has no relationship with the accounts mentioned and, if any relationship were to come to light, the Club would immediately end their contractual agreement and bring about any necessary legal action to defend their interests.”

The club demanded “an immediate rectification” to the reports.

It would be a monstrous and damning story if true, but must be taken with a grain of salt given that Marca has widely been considered a pro-Real Madrid outlet for some time. The allegations seize on the unsteadiness at Barca given the messiness of the season.

Imagine the stupidity of doing such a thing, risking the alienation of a golden era of names that made a generation fall in love with the idea of Barcelona. Couldn’t be true, surely?

Messi blasts Abidal, asks Barcelona director to name names

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Lionel Messi felt compelled to speak after Barcelona’s players were thrown under the bus by director of football Eric Abidal.

The Frenchman won four La Liga titles and two Champions League crowns with Barcelona before replacing Roberto Fernandez as Barca director of football in 2018.

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Abidal claimed that the players did not work hard for Ernesto Valverde before he was fired for Quique Setien, and Messi bristled at the director’s words.

Posting a screenshot of Abidal’s interview on Instagram, Messi issued this verdict on his former teammate’s words. From Marca:

“I honestly do not like doing these things, but I think everyone has to be responsible for their tasks and take care of their decisions. The players are responsible for what happens on the pitch and we are also the first to recognise when we’re not doing well.

“Those responsible for the sports management must also assume their responsibilities and, above all, take ownership of the decisions they make. Finally, I think that when talking about players, names should be given. Because if not then we are tarred with comments that are said and are not true.”

Abidal’s not going to be pleased with that, and he has little recourse given Messi’s massive power and controlled tongue, let alone the fact that he’s trying to negotiate a new deal with the Argentine.

This chess move backfired.

Xavi: ‘I can’t deny that my dream is to coach Barcelona’

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Barcelona legend and current Al-Sadd coach Xavi Hernandez confessed that his dream is to coach his former club, amid reports of current talks between the 39-year-old and the La Liga champions.

“I can’t deny that my dream is to coach Barcelona,” Xavi said on Saturday after leading his side to the Qatari cup final. “I’ve said it so many times, in a lot of interviews. Everyone knows that I’m a Barcelona fan, the club are in my heart and my dreams. But for now I’m focused on Al-Sadd.”

Current manager Ernesto Valverde is facing pressure at the Blaugrana after a late collapse against Atletico Madrid in the semifinals of the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia on Thursday. It’s the 55-year-old’s second consecutive poor result, with Barcelona dropping points against rivals and league-worst Espanyol in their last La Liga bout.

Barcelona’s Director of Football – and former teammate of Xavi – Eric Abidal and CEO Oscar Grau traveled to Doha, Qatar to meet with Xavi on Friday and watched Al-Sadd’s semi-final win on Saturday, which booked the club a spot in the final. Xavi, however, was tight-lipped about discussing what was said during their meeting.

“Abidal is my friend,” Xavi added, “I’ve met with him a lot of times. I respect Barcelona, I respect Valverde and I respect my contract. I’m doing my job here. I’ve been focussing on the semi-final and now I’m thinking about the final. I’m very happy to be coaching Al-Sadd and I respect this club a lot. I can’t say anything else.”

On Saturday, Al-Sadd confirmed that negotiations between Xavi and Barcelona for the former midfielder to return to Spain are ongoing. The Qatari club has dismissed the reports in the past, but Al-Sadd sporting director, Ghulam Al Balushi, confirmed otherwise following the game.

“There are negotiations between Xavi and Barcelona now and we wish him the best of luck wherever he goes,” Al Balushi expressed to Alkass.

A graduate from La Masia, Xavi spent 24 years at Barcelona, accumulating over 700 appearances and lifting eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues.

Abidal: Barcelona, Messi negotiating a new deal

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Lionel Messi and his representatives are in talks with Barcelona over a new contract, the defending champion’s sporting director Eric Abidal confirmed  to Mundo Deportivo in an exclusive interview.

“They are already talking,” Abidal, the former Barcelona defender, said. “I do not know if we will have news soon because the decision will depend on the player, but for us as a club I hope it is sorted as soon as possible.”

Messi – a five-time Ballon d’Or winner and Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer – joined the club’s well-known academy, La Masia, at the age of 13 and is under contract until 2021 but was recently questioned about his future after Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed that the Argentine can leave Camp Nou on a free transfer due to a clause in his contract.

Asked when he expects an announcement to be made on a new and improved contract, Abidal made it clear he’s unsure but hopes it happens: “It will be known when it is known, but I am positive.”

Throughout seven games in La Liga this season, Messi has scored eight goals and assisted in four occasions. In his latest appearance for the Catalonian side – a 4-1 win over Celta Vigo – the No. 10 scored a first-half hat-trick.

Abidal also confirmed that Barcelona are in talks with breakout teenage starlet Ansu Fati and his camp on a new deal.

“We are also talking to him,” Abidal said. “He is a young player that we have to protect. We have to talk to his family and representatives.”

Earlier this year, the 17-year-old became the youngest player in the league’s history to score and assist in the same game.

Abidal, club deny accusations that Barcelona bought a black market liver

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Both Eric Abidal and Barcelona have denied reports that the club bought a black market liver for the defender’s transplant six years ago.

According to reports, Spanish authorities have intercepted and recorded phone conversations that implicate former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell, who is currently in Spanish prison for money laundering, as having purchased a black market liver for Abidal’s operation.

Abidal, 38, is now the technical secretary for Barcelona. He had a transplant back in 2012 to remove a cancerous tumor.

“I feel obligated to communicate my annoyance and sadness in relation to today’s news about my alleged illegal liver transplant,” Abidal wrote in a statement released on Twitter. “Out of respect for my family, the medical team, and everyone who has undergone a similar situation, I would like to sincerely apologize if at any point there has been doubts about the unsoundness of the news published today. My cousin Gerard donated his liver to save my life and for this I am truly grateful to him. Existing procedures and protocols were followed at all times and all the medical documentation that proves so is available.”

The club also released a statement to say they “roundly deny any irregularity in the matter.” “The club are saddened by the lack of rigor in the spreading of such information about such a sensitive issue,” Barcelona said.

The Catalan Department of Justice was able to confirm via a spokesman that they had investigated Rosell for the “alleged illegal purchase of an organ” earlier this year, but the investigation has since been closed and no charges were filed.

After the surgery, Abidal returned to Barcelona in April of 2013 before completing a transfer to French club Monaco later that summer. Rosell is set to stand trial for his money laundering charges related to television rights for Brazil matches.