FC Barcelona coach Quique Setien has spoken on Lionel Messi’s future, snubbing Antoine Griezmann, and his possible firing ahead of the Blaugrana’s clash with Villarreal on Sunday.
On tomorrow’s opponents, Setien said: “I don’t know if they are the best or [one of] the best teams returning from [the coronavirus-induced] isolation. They are doing things very well, with a lot of talent [and] players in good form, who defend well and who are going to compromise us a lot because they are playing at home. But we played a pretty good game against Atlético [Madrid] and I hope we are at that level and get through the game.”
“I am not going to speculate on this because I have not heard him say anything about it and it is not my task,” commented Setien on Lionel Messi’s future, after a report emerged that the Ballon d’Or winner will not renew his contract and is set to leave in 2021.
“I see him well, Leo. The rest is speculation that I do not even enter into. That’s what you are there for,” Setien said of the press, when again grilled on the subject. “I see him training well, and [nothing] more.”
“In each club there are their echelons and hierarchies that are earned with extraordinary performances [over] many years. Hierarchies are not something that mark me because I aim to convince and transmit,” he said, of player power from the “sacred cows” in the Camp Nou locker room.
On Barça’s poor form away from home, Setien remarked: “It is true that in [our] results the team left some points [behind], but in some games away from home I think we were good and we did not deserve to drop those points. It is true that the result is the most important thing, but when [it is] not, other things have to come. We had to do many things against Atlético, due to an error in Vigo. Or rather, because of [late goal] from [Iago] Aspas, we lost two points. They are things that you cannot control but we still have Liga [left to play] and we will continue fighting.”
In relation to Antoine Griezmann, who was insultingly left on the bench until the 90th minute against his old club midweek, Setien answered: “Antoine is fine, he is a great professional. I have exchanged a few words with him, he is an extraordinary, professional boy and it will not affect him when he has to play again because he is a very [mentally strong] boy and I am sure that we will have him at 100% when he has to go back to the field.”
“I have spoken of hierarchies, but I have not spoken of indisputable [players],” Setien later wanted to clarify. “Griezmann is a great player and very important for the club and the team. When he has played, you ask me about Ansu Fati. [Not] everyone can play and I have to decide as to to my [front line] and who I think contributes or does not contribute to the team. I take into account the importance and the hierarchy of each player, but in a club like Barça with so many players … I know that some are going to get angry because not all are fit and it is a decision that I must take responsibility for, and that is what I do.”
“I have already experienced it on other occasions, it is part of the circus,” Setien said on rumors he could soon be out of job. “I know that there is a lot of noise around me I know but I do not listen [to it] or read [it]. It is not the first time that I have experienced it or that a coach has lived [through] a situation like this, when they don’t win a game.”
Though the president visited his home on Monday evening, Setien vowed he was not going to reveal the details of their conversation but stressed that he didn’t feel he won’t continue as FC Barcelona head coach.