LIONEL MESSI'S public bust-up with Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal has reportedly cast fresh doubt over his long-term future at the club.
SunSport revealed this week the Argentine icon's angry reaction to his ex team-mate's claims that some players downed tools under former Nou Camp chief Ernesto Valverde.
Abidal claimed a large section of the dressing room were under-performing towards the end of the Spaniard's reign.
However, Messi, 32, hit back on Instagram to accuse the Frenchman of tarnishing the players' reputation and demand that the former defender take responsibility for his own decisions.
According to Spanish publication Marca, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner's swift outburst has plunged Barcelona into a "minefield of distrust."
The outlet claims that Messi has been more hot-headed than usual lately in both training and matches because of the club's poor form.
His most recent outburst is all the more significant because the forward has a clause in his contract which enables him to terminate his Barca contract unilaterally at the end of any given season.
Messi, who has spent his entire career at the Nou Camp, is technically tied down until summer 2021 but his get-out option follows similar ones awarded to club legends Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Carles Puyol.
President Josep Maria Bartomeu, who revealed his captain was eager to end his career at Barca, has reportedly lost trust in Abidal for the growing sense of collapse and crisis at the club.
Marca adds that the 56-year-old was particularly upset with the failure to land Xavi as Barca's new manager.
Bartomeu was also annoyed by the club's inability to find a new forward in the January window following serious injuries to Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele.
The tension was then brought to a head when Abidal shared his frustrations in an interview with the Catalan newspaper Sport on Tuesday.
He said: "A lot of players were not happy and did not work much and there was also a problem with internal communication.
"The relationship between the coach and dressing room was always good, but there are things that as an ex-player I can sense.
"I told the club what I thought and we had to make a decision."
Yet the chaotic interview struck a nerve with Messi, who knows from experience that he becomes the main target if there are problems in the dressing room.
After posting a picture of Abidal's interview on Instagram, he denied that Valverde's sacking and Quique Setien's subsequent appointment was the player's responsibility.
He wrote: "I honestly do not like to do this kind of thing but I think that everyone has to be responsible for their job and take responsibility for their decisions.
"Players are responsible for what happens on the field, we are also the first to acknowledge when we don't play well.
"Those in charge of sporting direction should also face up to their responsibilities and above all take charge of their own decisions.
"Lastly, I think that when you talk about players, you should give names because otherwise you are tainting everyone's name and feeding rumours that spread and are not true."