Impossible for Barcelona to replace Iniesta, says Abidal

Newly appointed Barcelona technical director Eric Abidal admitted that Andres Iniesta is irreplaceable at Camp Nou.

Abidal, who made 125 league appearances for the club between 2007 and 2013, replaced Robert Hernandez after the Spaniard’s contract expired and will work alongside head coach Ernesto Valverde in the 2018-19 season.

Barca have been linked with the likes of Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan and Frenkie de Jong of Ajax as potential midfield signings this summer, but Abidal feels that no one can fill the void of the man who broke Catalan hearts when he left for Japanese club Vissel Kobe at the end of the season.

“We will make the decisions according to the needs of the team,” the former Monaco and Lyon defender said at his presentation to the media.

“But we cannot replace Iniesta with a player of the same quality, that’s impossible.”

[embedded content]

Abidal was asked about his young compatriot Ousmane Dembele, who has faced criticism in the wake of an uncertain debut season following a big-money move from Borussia Dortmund.

However, the ex-France international is confident the 21-year-old’s form will pick up next season.

“We want Dembele to have a brilliant World Cup, after that he can rest and then return here.

“We are looking forward to bringing the best out of him.”

Abidal refused to be drawn into the discussion about Antoine Griezmann, or whether the club’s failure to sign the Frenchman left them searching for other strikers.

Article continues below

Griezmann committed his future to Atletico Madrid shortly before the World Cup, ending weeks of speculation over a possible move to Barcelona.

“Griezmann’s decision is his and I do not want to enter this debate. The most important thing is the planning of next season and the future of the team.

“We will have to talk internally. I talked to Valverde but we did not talk about players because he was on vacation.”

Let’