Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona coach Quique Setien moved to ease concerns on Saturday about the futures of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann.
Messi’s contract is due to expire next year and, according to Spanish radio station Cadena Ser, the Argentinian has stopped talks due to frustrations with the direction the club is going in.
Asked about suggestions Messi plans to leave Barcelona, Setien said: “I won’t speculate about this because I haven’t heard from him so I’m not aware of him saying anything.
“I see him well, everything else is speculation that I won’t get involved in. We speak about what we have to speak about and nothing else.”
Griezmann’s position is also in doubt after a disappointing first season since joining from Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona play away at in-form Villarreal on Sunday, with Real Madrid sitting four points clear at the top of the table.
“He’s fine, I exchanged a few words with him. He’s a great professional. He understands the situation because he’s seen it before,” Setien said about Griezmann.
“It will not affect him because he is a very positive person. We can count on him 100 per cent.”
Griezmann has started three of Barca’s last four matches on the bench, including the crunch games against Sevilla and Atletico, both of which Barcelona drew.
Setien described Griezmann as “unquestionable” last month.
“I was talking about hierarchies but I haven’t said he is unquestionable. Griezmann is a great player and important to the team,” said Setien.
“When he plays, you ask me about Ansu Fati and vice-versa. Not everyone can play.
“I am not ignorant, every club has its hierarchies but at a club like Barca where there are so many players, not everyone is able to play.”
Barca’s form, as well as suggestions of unrest in the dressing room, have placed scrutiny on Setien’s job.
He has a contract until 2022, with a break clause in 2021, but it remains to be seen if he is in charge for next season, or even the Champions League in August.
“I have experienced it other times,” said Setien, when asked about the uncertainty.
“It is not something I can control. This the circus that we are in and we accept it.
“I don’t exhaust myself by reading or listening to the noise around me.”
Frenkie de Jong is not available to face Villarreal as the midfielder is still nursing a calf injury. Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembele are also out.
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