Barcelona are hopeful of moving on from Tuesday's war of words between Lionel Messi and sporting director Eric Abidal after club president Josep Maria Bartomeu held clear-the-air talks with both men, sources have told ESPN.
Bartomeu returned early from an event with the European Union in Brussels on Wednesday for a two-hour meeting with Abidal and CEO Oscar Grau. He had earlier spoken with Messi on the phone on three separate occasions.
Sources have told ESPN that Messi assured Bartomeu he is happy to turn the page on the incident and focus on the club's targets on the pitch between now and the end of the season, when he will move into the final 12 months of his contract.
Similar conclusions were drawn from the president's meeting with Abidal and Grau. All three voiced their opinions on the exchange between Messi and Abidal before agreeing that the best thing to do is to pull together for the good of the club.
Abidal, who previously played alongside Messi at Camp Nou, will remain in his role as sporting director, despite reports earlier in the day he could either be sacked or resign.
The club had been pushed towards an institutional crisis on Tuesday when Messi took to Instagram to respond to comments made by Abidal in relation to the dismissal of former coach Ernesto Valverde, who was replaced by Quique Setien on Jan. 13.
Abidal had suggested player power played a part in Valverde's sacking, saying "many players weren't happy [with him], but they weren't working hard, either."
Messi objected to that claim. Sources have explained to ESPN that the Argentine forward feels he has often been made the scapegoat for decisions at the club that have nothing to do with him.
In response, he told Abidal to take responsibility for his own actions and urged him to name the players he was criticising. "If not, you're dirtying everyone's name," Messi wrote. Sources say the players supported Messi's outburst.
Abidal's position had already been weakened prior to his spat with Messi following a disastrous January transfer window. The club let a number of players leave, including forward Carles Perez, but failed to bring in a replacement for the injured Luis Suarez, despite very publicly courting Valencia's Rodrigo Moreno.
The failure to bring in another attacker was made to look even worse this week when winger Ousmane Dembele, who has not played since November, ruptured a tendon in his thigh in training. He's expected to miss the rest of the season.
Results on the pitch will now dictate whether harmony off the pitch can be maintained. New coach Setien's small squad -- there are just 16 first team players available for Thursday's Copa del Rey quarterfinal against Athletic Bilbao -- will be pushed to the limit this month as they continue to compete for three trophies.
After the Athletic match, they travel to Real Betis in La Liga on Sunday sitting three points behind leaders Real Madrid. They're also away at Napoli in the Champions League later in February.
Setien said on Wednesday that his job is to keep his players from getting distracted by events going on around the club. He also insisted that he has no regrets about taking the role on, despite the issues which have surfaced on and off the pitch during his first 23 days in charge.