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Quique Setien plays down Lionel Messi exit rumours and insists captain "loves" being at Barcelona

Lionel Messi

Quique Setien insists Lionel Messi is happy at Barcelona after the club captain was caught up in a row with sporting director Eric Abidal.

Messi hit back at Abidal after the Frenchman appeared to suggest that members of the squad were responsible for Ernesto Valverde's sacking last month.

Valverde was dismissed following defeat by Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup, with Setien installed as his successor.

And the man in the Camp Nou hot seat has addressed rumours that Messi could seek pastures new in the summer.

A clause in the Argentinian's contract allows him to walk away for free at the end of the season, as long as he communicates his desire to do so by May.

"Of course [Messi is still motivated. I have seen him smiling, he seems fine, he loves coming to train, he loves being here, he looks the same as yesterday and the day before," Setien said at a pres conference.

"Messi has the experience and the capacity to decide about things that he should or should not do. I'm not going to get involved in the life of Messi, or anyone else.

"I'm nobody's dad, I have to ensure that my players come here, come here happy and that what we provide on the pitch are good for them to grow so that we can continue winning. The other stuff doesn't bother me at all.

"The majority of things you have said I'm sure are very important things but they don't affect me at all.

"I will try everything possible to ensure my group are as little affected as possible. We spoke one minute about this, talking about the importance of tomorrow's game and the obligation we have to completely focus on that, which is what interests us.

"My interest is football, as for everything else I'm sure there are situations I'm not able to control so that's why I don't waste my time on them.

"I'm going to talk about what really interests me and the players, football. I will try to make sure everything that happens around the club doesn't affect us.

"I know there are always problems in this club and it is the same in every club in the world, I'm sure. You can talk, but talk to me about football, please. I want to have training, prepare for the game and focus."

Barcelona face Athletic Club in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey on Thursday.

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