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Barcelona boss Quique Setien has played down talk of a rift with attacker Antoine Griezmann and has said he is not fearful for his own future.
The former Real Betis head coach is attempting to put out fires on multiple fronts currently, with reports that star player Lionel Messi is discontent, poor form and controversy over his treatment of World Cup winner Griezmann.
This came to a head on Tuesday, when the Catalans were held to a 2-2 home draw by Atletico Madrid. Though the former Atleti ace was instructed to warm up throughout the second half, he was brought on with mere seconds of the match remaining.
His prolonged presence among the replacements sparked a backlash from the Griezmann family on social media, as well as pointed criticism from the media, with ex-Barca attacker Christophe Dugarry claiming the coach is simply “incompetent” and “out of his depth”.
It was the third time in four matches that the 29-year-old had been left on the bench – and in each of those matches the Catalans had failed to win.
Nevertheless, Setien has claimed the media are simply trying to make something out of nothing.
“Antoine is fine, he is a great professional. I have exchanged a few words with him,” he said. “He is an extraordinary, professional boy and it will not affect him when he has to play again because he is a very mentally strong boy and I am sure that we will have him at 100% when he has to go back to the field.
“I have spoken of hierarchies, but I have not spoken of indisputable players. Griezmann is a great player and very important for the club and the team. When he has played, you ask me about Ansu Fati.
“Not everyone can play and I have to decide as to my front line and who I think contributes or does not contribute to the team. I take into account the importance and the hierarchy of each player, but in a club like Barca with so many players, I know that some are going to get angry because not all are fit and it is a decision that I must take responsibility for, and that is what I do.”
Addressing his own uncertain future, he said: “I have already experienced it on other occasions, it is part of the circus. I know that there is a lot of noise around me but I do not listen to it or read it. It is not the first time that I have experienced it or that a coach has lived through a situation like this, when they don't win a game.”