Messi has every right in the world to be angry with Abidal – Rivaldo
Lionel Messi "has every right in the world" to be angry with Eric Abidal, according to former Barcelona star Rivaldo.
Tensions are running high at Camp Nou following a disappointing week of results on the pitch and an apparent dispute between the club captain and the first-team technical secretary.
Messi used a social media post to criticise Abidal after he accused some Barca players of downing tools during Ernesto Valverde's final weeks as head coach.
Messi felt Abidal, a former team-mate at Barca, was "dirtying" the squad by making generalised comments about their efforts without naming any specific players.
The issue has led to suggestions Messi could exercise an option to have his Barca contract cancelled at the end of the season in order to leave on a free transfer, although Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on Friday moved to quash any suggestion he would try to tempt his former player to England.
Rivaldo believes a difficult few days for his old club, compounded by Thursday's Copa del Rey elimination at the hands of Athletic Bilbao, will be swiftly forgotten if the team returns to winning ways quickly.
However, the 1999 Ballon d'Or winner thinks Messi was always likely to jump to the defence of his team-mates after Abidal's "naive" remarks.
Disappointed by the undeserved elimination in the Copa but proud of the ambition and attitude. Congratulations to Athletic and to the fans who made the trip to support us. Confidence is total in the coaching staff and the players who will battle to the end in the league & UCL— Josep Maria Bartomeu (@jmbartomeu) February 6, 2020
"Leo Messi's reaction last Wednesday in which, through his social pages, he criticised Eric Abidal, seems normal to me," he said via Betfair.
"Messi has every right in the world to be angry with Abidal over the way in which he complained about the professionalism of some players in training, especially when he did not mention any specific name.
"That called the whole squad into question. It's hard to talk about this situation from the outside, but Messi just tried to defend the group and himself, maintain his reputation and - at the same time - find out which players Abidal was referring to.
"The latter was naive in saying something like that in an interview that, of course, would have a big impact in the media, forcing Messi to react.
"These types of problems should be solved internally. Abidal didn't do it on purpose but, ultimately, he has hurt the club.
"It's now clear that Ernesto Valverde was not the biggest problem for the club. The biggest loser in all of this is Barca.
"Abidal and Messi should have a conversation, as good people. Abidal is in a difficult situation, especially because the player who reacted to his comments is not just anybody: he's the captain of Barca and a superstar. He's Leo Messi.
"Simply getting back on the road to victories will calm all this."
Abidal also said this week that it was "not impossible" for Barca to bring back Neymar - a transfer Messi is said to have been keen for the club to make last year.
Rivaldo thinks his compatriot, who joined Paris Saint-Germain for a world-record €222million fee in 2017, would be the ideal signing to take some of the pressure off Barca's number 10.
"Barcelona need to find a player who makes the difference when Messi isn't there or it's not his night, as happened at San Mames," he added. "The club should look for a player to accompany him and replace him when necessary and, in my opinion, Neymar is that player.
"Barca should perhaps continue considering signing him next summer. The club isn't responsible for Neymar leaving a couple of years ago.
"It's been a while since then and perhaps it's time for negotiations that allow him to return and spend the best years of his career at Camp Nou."Published 07 Feb 2020, 22:50 IST