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Quique Setien talks Lionel Messi, Ousmane Dembele ahead of Athletic Bilbao clash

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The latest from the Barcelona boss

Quique Setien In Press Conference Photo by Xavier Ballart/Urbanandsport /NurPhoto via Getty Images

Barcelona boss Quique Setien faced the press on Wednesday and, unsurprisingly, was asked plenty of questions about Eric Abidal and Lionel Messi.

Setien made it clear he wasn’t interested in talking about that at all and wanted to focus on the football. He said the atmosphere in the squad is good, that Lionel Messi is happy and the club are focused on winning tomorrow.

Here are the best bits:

Setien on Athletic

I think it’s going to be an exciting game, both teams will have a real intention of going through. We’ll do everything we can on the field to be better than the opposition. It’ll be a tough game, very evenly-matched, Athletic will be intense and press a lot. It’s going to be very tough for us and we’ll need to be at a high level to win.

Setien on Messi-Abidal

These things don’t affect me at all. I will try everything possible to make sure the players are as little affected as possible. We spoke one minute about this. We need to focus completely on the game. What I am interested in is football, everything else are situations I can’t control and I won’t waste my time on them. We’ll try and ensure that everything that happens around the club does not affect us.

Setien on Dembele

These are things that are pending. We are going to see the diagnosis for Ousmane’s problem. How long he is going to be out and once we know that, and have all the information, we will take decisions. I was very excited to get Dembele back and this is obviously an unfortunate situation. We’ll see if it’s a long time out and we can sign someone.

I am worried not about Dembele as a footballer but as a person. He’s an extraordinary kid. He works with intensity and desire to come back because it could be five or three or four months sidelined from doing what he wants and that’s what really hurts me.

Setien on having a small squad

In football these things happen. If we can’t sign anyone it doesn’t matter. We will work with the same excitement, the same desire. We will ensure the players who are here are completely committed. Today we had another extraordinary training session and are completely focused on the game tomorrow. We shouldn’t waste our time on things that don’t matter to us.

Setien on Carles Perez’s exit leaving Barca short

I feel responsible for it. I share success and mistakes as well. That’s what happens at clubs. We can get things right or wrong. This forms part of the process when someone needs to take decisions. I can assure you it isn’t easy, but talking after the fact is. All I can say is that I would like to have more players. With the injury to Ousmane, Carles wouldn’t have left that’s clear. But we have to adapt.

Setien on Messi’s morale and how to keep him at the club

I’ve seen him smiling. He seems fine. He loves coming to train, being here. He looks the same as yesterday or the day before. Messi has the experience to decide things for himself. I am not going to get into anyone’s life. I am not their father. I have to make the players happy and give them good arguments to play.

Setien on the fitness of Pique and Vidal

He [Pique] had a fever but I don’t think it’s too important. We’ll see how he develops. I think it’s “almost certain” he’ll be able to play. [Vidal] has overcome the small niggle that he had and trained perfectly well today. He feels good and is fit to play tomorrow.