‘I don't recall any problems that are worth mentioning’ - Setien plays down Barcelona & Messi rifts amid sack reports

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien has denied reports that the dressing room is split after a recent run of poor results.

Since returning from the coronavirus suspension, which lasted three months, the Catalans have struggled to hit their stride in the league.

Although they initially swept past struggling Mallorca 4-0, they were unimpressive in home wins over Leganes and Athletic Club, while they were only able to draw against Sevilla and Celta Vigo.

Saturday’s 2-2 draw in Vigo, a match in which they twice led, has left their championship challenge in a particularly vulnerable spot, as they trail leaders Real Madrid by two points, with the capital side having the insurance of a better record in the head-to-head matches, the matrix by which the title will be decided upon should the teams finish level on points.

Following that setback, there have been reports of discontent behind the scenes, and Goal has learned that Barca are ready to sack the former Real Betis coach, who was only appointed in January, at the end of the season unless there is a dramatic improvement.

Meanwhile, Lionel Messi was seen apparently ignoring instructions from Setien's number two Eder Sarabia during the drinks break at Celta, where heated words were allegedly exchanged in the dressing room after the game. 

Speaking at a pre-match news conference for Atletico Madrid's visit, Setien insisted Messi and the squad are united in the battle to retain their title. 

“I don’t recall any problems that are worth mentioning,” said Setien.

"In reality it is true that there are always controversies, as in life, and it is normal that there are differences. 

"But this has always happened. I was not an easy player either. What we have to try to do is to convince everyone of the common idea.  

"I understand it as something natural. There is good communication. I don't give it any importance.

“When there are no victories, when things happen, everyone makes their point. This is the circus in which we show ourselves.

“The relationship between the players is good.”

Meanwhile, the coach is simply focusing on his own side and is not fixated on Real Madrid’s results.

“We can control what we can control: ourselves,” he said. “We have to improve so that what happened the other day doesn’t happen again.

“If we don’t win, our chances of winning the league are reduced. We have to try to win every game and what happens will happen.

“Hopefully, our rivals will give us the possibility, but we have to keep thinking about ourselves until the final day.”