Lionel Messi has reportedly criticized former FC Barcelona teammate Eric Abidal for saying players were not working hard under former boss Ernesto Valverde.

Abidal, who is the current sporting director of Barcelona, made the comments in an interview with Spanish media form Diario Sport.

Replying to Abidal’s remarks, Messi said, "When you talk about players, you have to give names because if not, it gives air to things which are not true.”

Valverde, who was in-charge of Barca between 2017 and 2020, was recently sacked and replaced by Quique Setien.

“Many players weren't satisfied or working hard and there was also an internal communication problem. The relationship between the coach and the dressing room has always been good but there are things as an ex-player that I could smell. I told the club what I thought and we reached a decision [on Valverde],” Abidal was quoted recently.

Lionel Messi almost scored a breathtaking goal but Barcelona were held to a frustrating draw by Slavia Prague Lionel Messi Photo: AFP / LLUIS GENE

“Sincerely, I don't like to do these things but I think that people have to be responsible for their jobs and own their decisions. The players [are responsible] for what happens on the pitch and we are the first to admit when we haven't been good. The heads of the sports department have to take their responsibilities too and above all own, the decisions they make,” Barca skipper Messi responded on his official Instagram account. He shared the interview on his Insta story where he slammed Abidal for his comments.

Abidal in his interview had also mentioned that six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi was happy at the club and a new contract for the Argentine legend was currently being discussed.

Barca’s recent 2-0 loss to Valencia even cost them their lead in La Liga as they have slipped to the second spot and trail leaders Real Madrid by three points. From 22 matches, Barca have already suffered four losses, while Real have lost only one league match so far.