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Barcelona ends contract with director who clashed with Messi

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — In another restructuring move following the humiliating loss to Bayern Munich, Barcelona on Tuesday ended its contract with former player Éric Abidal, who as sports director clashed with Lionel Messi this year.

Barcelona said the club and Abidal "have reached an agreement for the ending of the contract that united the two parties.” “The club would publicly like to thank Éric Abidal for his professionalism, commitment, dedication and the close and positive nature of his relationship with all aspects of the blaugrana family,” Barcelona said.

Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said Abidal told the club he wanted to leave. “It was a personal decision and we have to accept it,” he said. Messi hit back at the sports director in February after Abidal publicly criticized the players’ efforts.

Messi used his Instagram account to publish a text attacking Abidal for his criticism and saying the former player and other club directors should take responsibility for their recent decisions. Messi and Abidal were teammates until the Frenchman left the club in 2013. The 40-year-old former defender did not immediately comment publicly after it was announced that his contract with the club was terminated.

Barcelona fired coach Quique Setién on Monday, three days after the 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals. The club has also called for new presidential elections in March, and announced “profound changes to the first team” and a “wide-ranging” restructuring of the club.

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