Simeone responds to Messi-Setien rift rumours ahead of Barca's clash with Atletico

Diego Simeone tried to sidestep a question relating to reports Barcelona coach Quique Setien has lost the support of key players but emphasised the importance of managing a squad's emotions.

Barca host Simeone's Atletico Madrid on Tuesday amid a difficult situation, with media reports claiming Setien and his coaching staff are at odds with key players .

A clip from Barca's 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo on Saturday went viral on social media as it appeared to show Lionel Messi ignoring Setien's assistant Eder Sarabia.

Although Setien conceded it is normal to have occasional differences, he insisted the squad is unified despite the apparent issue with Sarabia and the fact certain publications have suggested the head coach himself has a strained relationship with Messi.

Simeone, who is rarely forthcoming regarding internal matters in news conferences, was typically reluctant to appear as if he was offering an opinion on Barca's problems, though he did stress the importance of squad harmony.

"You know me, I don't give my opinion on what's going on in other dressing rooms," Simeone told a news conference on Monday.

"I just make an opinion on ours. We need to keep it protected, always take care of it and always manage the feeling of the players, which is the most important for a squad.

"The most important thing is to manage, in my team, the emotional part, which I consider to be the key part."

When asked how he would solve any issues similar to those appearing at Barca, he added: "I wouldn't tell you, and I would try to solve it naturally in our camp, which is the dressing room or the training session.

"A cup of coffee could also be there in any informal chat that could help for solving any internal issue."

In contrast to Barca, Atletico have been in good form since La Liga returned from the coronavirus-enforced break.

They have recovered from a difficult start to the season, winning their last four games and now looking safe in third place.

With six games to play, they hold a four-point advantage over Sevilla in fourth.