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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb, 12, 2007

Barcelona's players reject talk of 'war'

Barcelona have put on a united front in the wake of the controversial comments made by striker Samuel Eto'o.

Eto'o claimed on Tuesday that there were serious problems between two groups of players at Barca, one of which supported president Joan Laporta, the other who supported former vice-president Sandro Rosell.

The Cameroon international also criticised Barca coach Frank Rijkaard for claiming the striker did not want to play in last weekend's game against Racing Santander, and hit out at team-mate Ronaldinho for reportedly criticising him.

However, Barca captain Carles Puyol has played down suggestions of a divide in the team, insisting they are all pulling in the same direction.

'It has been said in the media that there are two groups within the squad,' Puyol said. 'Samuel has never said that there are two groups though. He was referring to a belief that on the outside there are people that defend one player and other people who defend someone else.

'But in the squad I can assure that we are all together and we all want what is best for Barca. Away from that, everyone's opinion should be respected.'

Puyol revealed the team had held a meeting morning to discuss the situation, and insisted Eto'o and Ronaldinho had a 'good relationship' with each other.

'We talked in the dressing room because it was important enough for that. There was a big misunderstanding over Ronaldinho's words and now everything has happened as a consequence,' Puyol added.

'They have talked things over and it has all become clear, I am a witness to that. Ronaldinho never wanted to accuse Samuel, in fact the complete opposite.

'The two of them have a good relationship and it was a one-off thing.'

Eto'o, who missed training on Monday, was back with his team-mates today and was pictured hugging Ronaldinho after the end of the session.

'Eto'o also has no problems with Rijkaard,' the centre-back continued.

'Everyone is fine. People believe that there is something bad within the squad, but that is just not true. If explanations had been given sooner than everybody would have understood.

'Eto'o has a good relationship with the squad and is with us all the way, just like the last few years. We all want to win trophies together.'

Coach Rijkaard echoed the words of his captain during a press conference he held with Barca sporting director Txiki Begiristain.

'They (Eto'o and Ronaldinho) have spoken together and the things have already been clarified,' the Dutchman said. 'The team is well and wants to continue working. We have to look to the future.'

Begiristain added: 'It has been a communication problem. An example that the team is united is that Ronaldinho is Eto'o's best friend within the side.'

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