August 2020: After two years, Eric Abidal officially leaves the position of technical secretary of Barcelona, which is the position most similar to the sports director. After the final report of the catastrophe that Barcelona suffered in Bayern from Bayern in the semifinals of the Champions League, Eric Abidal was a victim of the internal war where then-President Josep Maria Bartomeu and his trusted people were on one side, ie Lionel Messi and the locker room on the other side.
More than seven months have passed since the isolation in which the former Barcelona midfielder found himself after leaving the club, and now he has decided to talk about everything. About the club's controversial treatment of Messi, his split with the club's icon, the roller coaster that Valverde survived, how club politics prevented him from bringing Maurizio Pochettino, why Barça missed the chance to bring Neymar back in the summer of 2019, and how bringing in Antoine Griezmann closed the doors of this operation ...
At the beginning of the interview for the British Telegraph, Abidal admitted that while driving from Lisabon to Barcelona, he remembered the words of the returnee to the presidential chair, Joan Laporte, who sent him a clear message on the day of the election as technical secretary: "You will see if they will let you work"
"In December 2018, I did a full analysis of the coach, his professional staff, and team. Then I suggested that Valverde should be replaced. I told the president it was all up to him now." "But he told me, ‘It’s not easy to do’.
Instead of being fired, he decided to extend Valverde's contract just two months after we talked. He did the exact opposite of what I suggested, "Abidal said. "I accepted that decision, of course, I continued to give the coach full support.
But, it was all kind of weird for me because I was in favor of Valverde being replaced a little earlier. " Less than a year after he extended his contract, Valverde was fired by Bartomeu, in January last year. Abidal then wanted Mauricio Pochettino, but there was strong resistance from the club because the club rules prevented the Argentine from taking over the team.
"On my wish list were Pochettino, (Kike) Setin, (Max) Allegri, and Xavi. Setien was eventually chosen, but my first option was Pochettino." "I told the management: "I want to bring the best coach on the market."
I was not interested in politics, nor in the fact that he had been to Espanyol before. That is not politics for me. I wanted the best, Pochettino is one of the best in the coaching business." "He reached the Champions League final with Tottenham, you have to respect that.
He has a good coaching philosophy, the players love him and I believe he would be the best coach for Barcelona. Of course, if a real project was offered to him. "
Of course, the biggest problem for Pochettino in the eyes of the people of Barcelona was not his playing and coaching past, but the statement that he would "rather be a farmworker in Argentina than work in some clubs" where he clearly alluded to Barcelona.
"I know what the problem was and the management went for that argument. The problem was not the coaching quality, but something else." "But he gave that interview many years ago, I will not say that he spoke badly about Barcelona, but what he said was a big problem for some people, who persistently said that Pochettino "does not respect the club""
"But, Mourinho also told in his time how Barcelona is in his heart, and then he became the coach of Real Madrid. It’s all a weird mix of politics and professional decisions." "Barcelona is a unique club with a huge management and a large number of people who make decisions."