Jordi Alba has leapt to the defence of Lionel Messi by criticising Barcelona‘s sporting director Eric Abidal.

Ex-Blaugrana defender Abidal took aim at the players’ work-rate under previous manager Ernesto Valverde, prompting Messi to respond by telling his former teammate to name specific individuals if wants to criticise the team.

After Barca’s Copa Del Rey exit at the hands of Athletic Bilbao on Thursday, fellow player Jordi Alba sided with the captain.

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‘This club gets enough s*** thrown at it from the outside so we shouldn’t be throwing s*** at ourselves,’ Alba told reporters.


‘Abidal was a player, he is loved by the fans and that’s why he should know what it’s like inside the dressing room and how players feel.’

The 1-0 cup defeat to Bilbao was their earliest exit from the competition in a decade and new boss Quique Setien’s second defeat since taking over from Valverde in January.

Alba said their internal struggles didn’t affect their performance: ‘We showed that we are a team and that’s what we need to keep on doing.

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It’s a real shame we conceded the goal so late but that’s what football is like. I’m very proud of the team because of how well we played.’

£112million man Ousmane Dembele also suffered a huge injury setback, with the club revealing on Tuesday that he requires an operation on his hamstring.

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The young Frenchman who has only made five league appearances this season is set for an extended period on the sidelines.

Barca trail La Liga leaders Real Madrid by three points, after the Galacticos’ resurgence under boss Zinedine Zidane.